OSHA 2020 Safety Stand-Down Resources

In 2018, 320 of the 1,008 construction fatalities were caused by falls from elevation. The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) wants to remind everyone that those deaths were preventable

That’s why they provide resources and certification for employers to participate in the annual National Safety Stand-Down event, which aims to raise fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries. According to OSHA, a Safety Stand-Down is a “voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about fall hazards and fall prevention safety.” 

If you choose to hold a Safety Stand-Down event for your employees from September 17 until October 31st  2020, you can download a certificate of participation! Since all of this year’s OSHA-hosted events are virtual, any company, large or small, can participate! Check out all of the past and upcoming webinars on this page!

How to Conduct a Safety Stand-Down

According to OSHA, companies can conduct a Safety Stand-Down by taking a break to have a “toolbox talk” or another safety activity such as conducting safety equipment inspections, developing rescue plans, or discussing job specific hazards. If your company has never hosted a Safety Stand-Down before, check out these tips for what makes them successful. 

Or let us do all the work by checking out our company-wide OSHA Safety Training Courses. The 14 hour online HD video Safety Suite includes 24 pre-written toolbox talks that cover up-to-date safety information on fall protection and a variety of other safety topics. When you lead your team through the National Safety Stand-Down event, be sure to share pictures with us on social media by tagging us and using #StandDown4Safety!

Oregon License COVID-19 Renewal Deadline

Temporary Renewal Deferment

Any Oregon contractors who have not renewed their license only have a few days left before the COVID-19 deferral deadline arrives. 

At the start of the pandemic, the Oregon Construction Contractors Board (CCB) automatically enrolled all contractors with an active license that expired between March 1st –  September 14, 2020 into a renewal grace period. 

With the deadline quickly approaching, here’s how to complete your required CE and renew your license from anywhere – even your home! 

Finish Your CE On Your Own Schedule

No matter how many CE credit hours you still need to complete before renewing your license, we’ve got the selection for you. Our video and narrated courses are completely online, and available 24/7 from any device with an internet connection. You can choose course packages that cover all the bases, or pick individual classes based on your interests.  View Courses

Renewal FAQ

I can’t remember if I submitted my renewal application. How can I tell?

Look up your CCB number on the CCB search page at http://search.ccb.state.or.us/search/.

If your license is deferred, the record will show that your license is active, but the expiration will be a date in the past. If you recently renewed your license, the record will show that your license is active and the expiration date will be a date in 2022.

I just submitted my renewal application a few days ago. How can I tell if it’s been received?

Check your bank statement. If the payment has gone through, then the application is being processed.

I didn’t get a renewal application in the mail. Why not?

CCB now sends postcards to remind contractors to renew, instead of full paper applications. If you are not able to renew online and require a paper application, send an email to ccb.info@state.or.us, or call 503-378-4621.

OSHA Re-Opening FAQs

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a frequently asked questions and answer page on their website to help prevent COVID-19 exposure on the job.

As you continue to increase your time spent on the job this summer, be sure to check the FAQ page often whenever you feel like you might be at risk. Don’t have time to read through every question? Here’s some important information to remember: 

What are the key differences between cloth face coverings and surgical masks?

Cloth face coverings may be commercially produced or improvised (i.e., homemade) garments, scarves, bandanas, or items made from t-shirts or other fabrics. They are NOT considered personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Surgical masks are typically cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as medical devices (though not all devices that look like surgical masks are actually medical-grade, cleared devices). They are used to protect workers against splashes and sprays (i.e., droplets) containing potentially infectious materials. In this capacity, surgical masks are considered PPE.

Should workers wear a cloth face covering while at work, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation for all people to do so when in public?

OSHA generally recommends that employers encourage workers to wear face coverings at work. Face coverings are intended to prevent wearers who have Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) without knowing it (i.e., those who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic) from spreading potentially infectious respiratory droplets to others. This is known as source control.

If workers wear cloth face coverings, do employers still need to ensure social distancing measures in the workplace?

Yes. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing measures.

Are surgical masks or cloth face coverings acceptable respiratory protection in the construction industry, when respirators would be needed but are not available because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

No. Employers must not use surgical masks or cloth face coverings when respirators are needed.

Does OSHA have any COVID-19 guidance for the construction industry?

Yes. OSHA released guidance specific to the construction industry.

When can employees who have had COVID-19, or may have had COVID-19, return to work?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidance about the discontinuation of home isolation for people with COVID-19. Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptom onset and
  • At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Other symptoms have improved.

As you continue navigating safely returning to work or increasing your workload, remember to visit OSHA’s COVID-19 resource page for official up-to-date regulation information. 

Michigan LARA & BCC to Start Implementing Citations This Fall

Effective October 1, 2020, Michigan Bureau of Construction Codes (BCC) team members may issue a citation to a person that is licensed under 1980 PA 299, or 2016 PA 407, or required to hold a license or certificate under these acts if staff observes from an investigation, inspection, or complaint that conduct or conditions exist or have existed that violate these acts. Citations will not be issued for violations of the code as there are existing remedies to resolve code deficiencies.

The following are a list of violations subject to a citation being issued along with a brief description of conduct or conditions observed, and individuals that may be subject to the citation being issued:

Lack of Identification

Conduct/condition: No proof of licensure and government-issued photo identification.

Individuals: Anyone required to be licensed under 2016 PA 407, specifically: building officials, inspectors, electricians, plumbers, mechanical contractors, and boiler tradesmen. 

No Permit Status

Conduct/condition: No documentation of permit where required before work commences.

Individuals: Anyone required to be licensed under 1980 PA 299, or 2016 PA 407, specifically: building officials, inspectors, electricians, plumbers, mechanical contractors, residential builders, maintenance & alteration contractors, and boiler tradesmen. 

Unregistered Apprentice

Conduct/condition: Non-licensed individual on worksite assisting with electrical or plumbing work.

Individuals: Anyone required to be registered under 2016 PA 407, specifically: apprentice electricians and apprentice plumbers. 

Operation of a Boiler Without a Valid Certificate

Conduct/condition: Boiler found operating with a certificate blocking violation and existing code deficiencies that are not corrected.

Individuals: Anyone responsible for the boiler. 

Any citation issued will include actions required for compliance along with the payment of a fine not to exceed $100.00 for each violation. Please note that a citation can either be accepted or contested within 30 days of issuance. If you have any questions concerning this notification, please contact the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs at 517-241-9302 or LARA-BCC-Help@michigan.gov.

Understanding the Critical Path Method

What is the Critical Path Method?

Whether you have heard of the critical path method (CPM) or not, it is a valuable project planning method that can save you time and help you complete more projects during the busy season.

According to Techopedia, CPM is a step-by-step methodology or technique for planning projects with numerous activities that involve complex, interdependent interactions (such as building a home). One of the main benefits to using this method is being able to complete projects in the shortest time possible by identifying critical/non-critical tasks to prevent conflicts and bottlenecks.

Take a look at the diagram above to get a better idea of the process. Let us know if you plan on using CPM for any projects in the future!

What do the letters mean?

The letters a b c d e f g and h are all tasks that need to be completed to finish the project.

What does DUR= mean?

The DUR= means the duration of the task or how many days this task will take to complete. So, DUR=10 means that this is a 10-day task.What does DRAG= mean?

DRAG= the amount of time that the task is adding to the total project. So, DRAG=10 means this task is adding 10-days to the project.

What does TF= mean?

This is the total float. Total float is the leeway that you have to schedule and complete this task. If the DUR=15 and the TF=5 that you have 5 days of leeway to start the task or the task will extend out the completion date of the project.

What do the dark green numbers mean in this diagram?

These are the earliest start and finish days for the task. So, lets look at task F. Task F at its earliest can start on the 11th day of the project and is that task is started on the 11th day than it will be completed on the 25th day.

What do the blue numbers mean in this diagram?

The blue numbers are the latest start and finish days. The latest that task F can be started is the 26th day of the project. If the task is started on the 26th day of the project than it will not be completed until the 40thday of the project.

What do the red arrows mean?

The red arrows specify tasks that must be completed in succession. This means that task a must be complete before task be can be started. In this diagram let’s say that task a is staking the property and task B is excavation. You can not start the excavation until the lot is properly staked.

What do the black arrows mean?

The black arrows are tasks that can be completed as other tasks are being performed. In this example lets look at task F. Task F is waterproofing the foundation walls. Task F can be completed while the other work is being performed such as framing. So task F is not adding extra days to the project.

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.


Looking Forward: A Proposal for Rebuilding Post-Pandemic America

In an effort to give you a break from the negative news cycle, we want to look forward toward the future and the many possibilities it brings for professional contractors.

In recent weeks, the Moving Forward Act made its way through Congress. The proposal allocates billions of dollars toward creating public infrastructure that is "smarter, safer, and made to last." Alabama Representative Terri Sewell supports the bill, saying “Our country is in serious need of bold and comprehensive infrastructure reform. This was true before the coronavirus pandemic and it has become increasingly urgent as we continue to grapple with the ongoing healthcare and economic crises resulting from the pandemic.”

Just a few of the many proposed improvements include:

  • Improving affordable housing infrastructure by creating and preserving 1.8 million affordable homes
  • Establishing a new Neighborhood Investment tax credit that would subsidize certain development costs to encourage the rehabilitation of vacant homes or construction of new homes in distressed areas
  • Delivering better roads and bridges faster with more than $300 billion of investment that prioritizes fixing what America already has, including tens of thousands of structurally deficient bridges

As contractors, you’re responsible for much more than just building safe and efficient homes or infrastructure; your work can make a positive difference in communities around the country. The schools you help build or renovate (especially in lower income areas) bring opportunities for success that weren’t possible before. Working to increase affordable housing works toward lowering homeless rates and gives families a sense of security.

When it comes time to rebuild the nation (financially and literally), we are proud to help contractors like you make positive changes in your local community.

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OSHA Tips for Staying Safe This Summer

OSHA and the US Department of Labor recently published a press release reminding both employers and employees to remember necessary precautions for working safely during summer months. Florida's contractors are no strangers to sweltering summer temperatures, but dangerous heat exposure can occur anywhere if the conditions are right.

When working in a warm environment, the human body relies on its ability to get rid of excess heat to maintain a healthy internal body temperature. Heat dissipation happens naturally through sweating and increased blood flow to the skin. Workers cool down more rapidly if the external (environmental) heat and physical activity (metabolic heat) are reduced. If heat dissipation does not happen quickly enough, the internal body temperature keeps rising and the worker may experience symptoms including:

  • Thirst
  • Irritability
  • A rash
  • Cramping
  • Heat exhaustion or heat stroke

Heatstroke is the most severe heat-related illness. Workers suffering from heatstroke experience mental dysfunction such as unconsciousness, confusion, disorientation, or slurred speech. If you or any of your employees experience these symptoms on a job site, call 911 immediately!

Here are three important tips to remember from OSHA’s Occupational Heat Exposure page to ensure everyone stays safe this summer:

  • Water. Rest. Shade. Workers should drink water every 15 minutes, and take frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas
  • Ensure adequate planning and supervision is in place to keep workers safe in the heat
  • Train workers on the hazards of heat exposure and how to prevent illness

We are happy to help ensure the safety of America’s working men and women by providing workplace safety training in all of our state-approved continuing education packages. Remember, Certified Florida Contractors contractors must renew their licenses by August 31st, 2020!

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How to Get Leads as a Young Construction Business

If you wish to develop a construction company in today's market, you need to tackle more than simply offering solid service. Of course, being able to efficiently deal with construction is an important trait to have. But, if you are to make your business profitable in modern times, you need to know how to find customers. This is why we are going to take a closer look at how to get leads as a young construction business.

Get Leads as a Young Construction Business

Most people today look for construction companies online. When they need to renovate their home or build something new, they use search engines like Google or Bing to find companies that can help them out. Or, they ask around whether their neighbors have someone to recommend. It is important to keep both Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and online reviews in mind, as these will be the key ways in which you will get leads as a young construction business.

SEO with different aspects of it.
You need to manage your SEO in order to get leads for your business.

Understand Your Company

Since you are running a new construction business, we are going to assume that you are not yet sure about what kind of service you want to offer. It is important to note here that most successful construction businesses have one pillar service and a couple of services connected to it. Some of the possible pillar services can be:

  • Kitchen renovation
  • Roof construction
  • Home construction
  • Garage construction

By focusing on a single service, you'll be able to better market your business and find the right audience. Companies that opt for the "best at everything" approach, usually fail since they spread themselves too thin. Ideally, you will find a construction service that is most needed in your area. By doing so, you will get leads naturally, as your neighbors will have a need for your services.

Set Up a Good Website

Once you have figured out what your pillar services are, you need to set up a good website. To do this properly, we advise you to first hire a web developer to help you out from the beginning. While you might find some seemingly cheap ways to set up a website, we strongly suggest that you stick with hiring an experienced professional. As you will soon learn, you will need to develop and modify your website as your business and your brand grows. The only way to tackle that properly is to have the freedom and the control that an experienced web developer provides.

A laptop with website notes on it.
You cannot have a safe, well-functioning website without relying on an experienced web developer.

Social Media

We cannot talk about your company having a decent online presence without mentioning social media. After setting up your website, you will need to create profiles on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can choose to let a social media management company handle your accounts, but this may not be the smartest way to handle them right off the bat. Our advice is to study social media marketing a bit and develop a voice of your own. There are a lot of construction companies that have their social media presence handled by a small number of social media managers. This often leads to them having the same online presence, which is something that you definitely want to avoid. Instead, try to use your first months to experiment and see what feels best. The sooner you find a way to communicate with your customers, the better.

Another thing we would also recommend is filming live videos while you work. A quick video where you explain what you do in a positive tone will do wonders for your marketing. Especially after you've done a couple of videos and figured out what to post.

Having Good Communication with Your Customers

As any digital marketing manager will tell you, having online traffic is not enough to have leads. Sure, some of that traffic is going to convert to actual business. But, if you want to get leads as a new construction business in a reliable manner, you need to develop good communication with your customers. After all, that is what your website, social media, and your live videos should be all about. The more you can address your customers' concerns and needs, the better reviews you are going to get. And the better reviews you have, the more leads you are going to find.

A woman working on her laptop and her phone
Having good communication skills is quite important for developing a construction company.

Working with Other Companies

Having a good online presence is necessary to get leads as a new construction business. However, there are other ways in which you can ensure that your future customers find you. One of them is working with other companies in order to cross-promote. To do so, you need to find reliable companies that are willing to recommend your business to their customers. These, of course, cannot be competing companies, but companies that are closely related to construction. So, for instance, you can contact moving companies like golansmoving.com and have them recommend you for home renovation after moving a family. Just ensure that the company you associate with is a reliable one. Gaining back customer trust after working with unreliable people can be quite hard.

Keeping a Good Impression

The final tip we have for you is to keep a good impression. Most construction companies find work through recommendations. After all, people are always going to trust their friends and family more than they are going to trust you. So, if you work hard, use the latest technology and present yourself in a polite manner, you are bound to find new leads in the most natural way possible.

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