The Business of Building Through COVID-19 & Beyond

The construction industry began 2020 strong and optimistic for the future. But thanks to COVID-19, builders faced tough restrictions the during prime spring and summer months. Now, the construction industry's future is left unclear as many states are reverting back to stay at home orders from their state officials. Construction has always been one of America’s biggest industries and officials are confident that with some updated safety measures, contractors will be able to adapt and continue operations to move the industry forward.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected construction companies in many different ways. In order for a company to thrive during these times, developing a strategy is necessary to gain an in-depth understanding of your partners’, customers', and employees' needs. While re-opening for business, these key people may feel wary and unsure about sharing space with others regardless of safety protocols. As of this writing COVID-19 has no vaccine or cure. Construction business owners must remain strong by finding reliable COVID-19 resources, prioritizing employee health, and re-opening worksites and offices with the “new normal” standards.

Having reliable information on hand is crucial when determining a strategy for your business’s reopening. Focus on getting your COVID-19 information from reputable and reliable resources. Start by visiting websites of construction industry organizations and leaders to check for specific industry guidelines. The best place to find accurate and updated COVID-19 information the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which has created specific pages dedicated to businesses that are looking to reopen. State government websites will also provide relevant information regarding business reopening during the outbreak.

The health and safety of employees is crucial to re-opening businesses. Some workers who are working remotely will need to continue their work-from-home arrangement if there is not enough workspace in the office. For construction site workers, be creative in ensuring that fewer people are on the worksite and social distancing is used. Introduce break time schedules to keep fewer workers in shared spaces like break rooms and cafeterias or stagger shifts to minimize the number of people on-site at any given time. It is important to communicate with employees to ensure everyone is working safely and limiting risks brought by COVID-19. Make sure to listen to clients' and employees’ concerns, answer questions, and incorporate their feedback into your overall strategy.

Guidelines from the CDC require at least six feet of space between employees whenever possible. Before reopening the construction site, you need to optimize the site layout prioritizing the entrances and exits, the flow of traffic, and gathering sites. Work to minimize the formation of long queues and the buildup of people.

Construction technology can make work more efficient and lessen the time needed to finish work. For example, the use of drones will allow inspection activities to continue even without being on the site. Accounting and other office tasks can be done from home using software. There are also several platforms for virtual meetings instead of the classic in-person meetings while still sharing plans, models, and data.

Reopening a construction business in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic won’t be easy. However, the limitations and challenges brought by the pandemic may be the catalyst needed for the industry to adopt new tools, guides, and procedures that are long overdue and move forward to a brighter, sturdier future.


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Proposed Florida Bill Would Require Heat-Illness Training

Under a new proposed bill, Florida’s construction and agriculture employers could be required to train outdoor employees on how to avoid heat-related illnesses. This heat-illness prevention bill would set a standard for outdoor workers to be given plenty of drinking water and access to shade with 10-minute rest breaks after 2 hours of outside work.

It accompanies another bill in the Florida Senate that would also require annual training to identify signs of heat exhaustion and a period to allow workers to gradually adopt to a hot environment.

OSHA does not currently have a standard for indoor or outdoor heat exposure safety practices, except within the scopes of their general hazards section. They do recommend employers provide water, rest, and shade for workers in hot environments.

Proponents have been pushing for tougher standards, arguing Florida is one of the hottest states in the country, and when paired with the humidity it makes work unsustainable.

According to Business Insurance, “The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission sent clear signals that OSHA should adopt a standard to address heat stress risks rather than relying on the general duty clause after vacating a citation issued after the death of a 61-year-old temporary employee from complications of heat stroke.”


Builders License Exam Prep & State Approved Continuing Education

4 Safety Practices for the Modern Jobsite

Dodge Data & Analytics (DDA), a provider of analytics and software-based workflow integration solutions for the construction industry, conducted a new study for the Center for Construction Research and Planning (CPWR).

The study asked contractors about specific practices focused on safety like reducing noise levels and fall risks, to broader practices like adopting a safe jobsite climate that includes supervisor mentorship and training.

Dodge Data & Analytics shows four safety best practices that need to become commonplace on jobsites. The study helps reveal ways that the construction industry can still improve practices to help with worker safety, health, and well-being.

For the briefness of this blog, this is how they defined different size construction companies:

  • Large companies: annual revenues of $100 million or more
  • Midsize companies: annual revenues of $10 to $100 million
  • Small companies: annual revenues below $10 million

Manage hazards before construction begins

There is a clear pattern of large companies utilizing more safety practice techniques compared to smaller companies. One area that large companies consistently perform better than smaller ones is advanced hazard planning. 42% of respondents in large companies reported that they believed their company handles advanced planning well—compared to 28% of midsize and 36% of small companies.

A similar trend appears when looking at materials-handling practices. 86% of contractors from large companies reported that they formally plan how materials will be handled once work is awarded, and 72% reported that they meet with employees for a discussion on how materials will be moved. In comparison, small and midsize companies reported they develop a formal plan for material handling, but only 54% conduct those meetings with employees.

Take advantage of online safety tools

According to the study, another way midsize and small companies can help develop jobsite safety is utilize websites and online tools that provide useful information and materials for improving safety.

Surveyors were asked if they used websites from Stop Construction Falls, Choose Hand Safety, CPWR’s Construction Solutions database, as well as the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health. Dodge Data & Analytics states “The gap between the percentage of contractors using them and the percentage who find that they provide value suggests that wider use of these online resources could help contractors access practices and solutions, ultimately helping them improve safety on-site.”

Mentor Subcontractors on Safety Performance

Providing health and safety related mentorship to subcontractors helps with the safety climate of a project by making sure that all workers understand the safety goals and parameters. The findings found that this type of mentorship was not common practice.

58% of respondents from large companies reported this type of safety mentorship on their projects, with small and midsize companies saying 29% and 35% provide it.

Practice Lean Construction Widely

Dodge Data & Analytics describes lean construction as “The goals of eliminating waste and improving the process of construction are frequently supported by enhanced leadership and communication across the organization. These same qualities are essential to enhancing safety, and safety is also a key performance indicator of success for lean projects.”

Many contractors in the study reported that they are familiar with lean construction, which is a huge increase from 53% in a similar study conducted in 2013.  But In the current study only 21% reported implementing lean procedures at their businesses.

Dodge Data & Analytics show there is a lot of safety practices that construction companies can focus on to improve the jobsite climate. Larger companies have the resources to ensure safety practices but there are applications smaller and midsize companies could implement to improve jobsite safety.


Builders License Exam Prep & State Approved Continuing Education

No Construction Company Is Immune To Workplace Hazards, Vermont Building Contractors Are No Exception

The construction industry contributes close to 4% of America's workforce.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 1034 construction workplace fatalities in 2016. We've all heard horror stories of workplace catastrophes, injuries and near death experiences on the job site.  There are four major causes of construction fatalities, falls, electrocution, being struck by an object and getting caught in between or inside a piece of equipment or an object at the job site.  Although we do our best, accidents and injuries do happen. One can only imagine the pain and suffering that could have been avoided had there been appropriate safety procedures and staff training in place. Safety should always be at the forefront of everyone's mind while on the job. The Builders License Training Institute offers online video courses designed to assist you in identifying, reducing and eliminating construction-related hazards. They are well worth the price tag and a few hours of your time if the information they contain saves you or your workers from unnecessary and avoidable dangers. Check them out below.

Construction Safety Standards

Course Description

This six-hour video course is a review of the safety codes required for residential construction.  Students will be able to understand and describe the basic components of a construction safety program.  They will recognize the hazards inherent at a construction job site and describe ways to prevent those hazards.  Finally, students will learn the responsibilities of both the employer and the employee in observing established safety practices.

Learning objectives are provided to facilitate understanding and progress.   Informal progress checks throughout the module will help you review and measure your understanding of the material.  The assessment at the end of each chapter accurately reflects learning objectives.  A 70% score on each assessment is required to move on to the next chapter.

After completing this course participants will be able to:

  • Recognize the role of OSHA in the workplace and describe the causes of the most common workplace injuries.
  • Identify the hazards that prompt the use of fall protection for workers at the job site.
  • Outline at least three procedures that must be followed in order to control and minimize workplace hazards.
  • Create a working emergency action and fire prevention plan.
  • Name factors that pose a hazard to employees working in excavations, and identify how to reduce those hazards.
  • Summarize "best practices" for proper handling, storage, use and disposal of hazardous materials.

Hazardous Work Zones: Implementing Occupational Safety I

Course Description

Construction is a high hazard industry that comprises a wide range of activities involving construction, alteration, and/or repair. Examples include residential construction, bridge erection, roadway paving, excavations, demolitions, and large-scale painting jobs. Construction workers engage in many activities that may expose them to serious hazards, such as falling from rooftops, faulty ladders, unguarded stairs and scaffolds, and improperly designed egress routes. OSHA safety standards are designed to reduce on-the-job injuries; health standards to limit workers' risk of developing an occupational disease.

After completing this course you will be able to:

  • Recognize the role of OSHA in the workplace and describe the causes of the most common workplace injuries.
  • Identify the hazards that prompt the use of fall protection for workers at the job site.
  • job site at least three procedures that must be followed in order to control and minimize workplace hazards.
  • Create a working emergency action and fire prevention plan.

Hazardous Work Zones: Implementing Occupational Safety II

Course Description

Construction is a high hazard industry that comprises a wide range of activities involving construction, alteration, and/or repair. Examples include residential construction, bridge erection, roadway paving, excavations, demolitions, and large-scale painting jobs. Construction workers engage in many activities that may expose them to serious hazards, such as excavation cave-ins, unguarded machinery, being struck by heavy construction equipment, electrocutions, and hazardous materials.  OSHA safety standards are designed to reduce on-the-job injuries; health standards to limit workers' risk of developing an occupational disease. This three-hour online video course is designed to assist those in the industry to identify, reduce, and eliminate construction-related hazards.

After completing this course participants will be able to:

  • Name factors that pose a hazard to employees working in excavations, and identify how to reduce those hazards.
  • Outline at least three procedures that must be followed in order to control and minimize on-the-job injuries.
  • Summarize "best practices" for proper handling, storage, use and disposal of hazardous materials.
  • Recognize the role of OSHA in the workplace and describe the causes of the most common workplace injuries.

A little time spent learning how to avoid catastrophe now will save you and your workers time, in the long run, cleaning up after the unthinkable. Start now by educating yourself and workers about job site safety. You'll save time and money by always playing it safe.

 

Vermont Building Contractor License Professional Development

This was a great course. The instructor was very knowledgeable. *****
Anthony D.
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