How Field Service Technicians Are Reaching Higher Levels of Efficiency and Ensuring Safer Jobsites

When hard-hatted men and women are operating forklifts and scaling skyscrapers, it’s essential for equipment to work safely and efficiently; otherwise, firms risk losing millions of dollars, not to mention human lives.

Field service is vital to ensuring that neither happens. With regular maintenance and proactive repairs, field service can keep workers safe by preventing unplanned outages and keep projects on schedule by preventing downtime.

Imagine that a crane malfunctions days before a frame installation is scheduled, and the project deadline is looming. Repairing the crane might take multiple days, several field service technicians, and various parts or replacements to get the machine up and running. The cost of machine downtime adds up quickly both in time and in money. Worse, crane operators were likely using the crane in the days prior to the outage, unaware of the machine’s dangerous maintenance issue. With connected technology, this scenario is entirely avoidable.


MN Construction Industry Launches Recruiting Initiative

If the industry wants to beat its ongoing labor shortage, it's going to have to find new ways to attract workers outside of its normal applicant pool. Recruiting from such communities can mean reaching out to those who have historically been underrepresented in the industry, such as women and people of color.

Today, women make up only 9% of total construction employment. That number decreases markedly when adjusted to account for women in leadership roles or trade positions. Part of the pipeline issue starts long before women even reach the job site, according to Donna Ricca, who began her career working as a painter for a woman-owned construction company. Negative assumptions about women's ability to perform well in the trades and a macho culture on the job are part of the problem.

But events and recruitment targeted toward women could help change that. Programs like Habitat for Humanity’s National Women Build Week and those targeting girls in school could help make construct…

Residential Metal Roofing Share Jumps to 14%

As consumer demand for sustainable building products continues to grow, the Metal Roofing Alliance reports another market share gain for metal in the residential retrofit market. New independent research conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics on behalf of the MRA shows the total market share of metal roofing gained another 3 points in 2016, growing from 11% market share in 2015 to 14% in 2016. Between 2015 and 2016, the total demand for metal roofing increased from 17.7 million squares to 19.4 million squares. Metal roofing is second only to asphalt shingle roofing in the remodeling market.

In 1998, when the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA) began educating homeowners with a national consumer awareness campaign, metal roofing market share was just 3.7% of the consumer re-roofing market. “MRA members’ commitment to growing the industry through ongoing focus and effort has clearly made a big difference. This latest surge brings us closer to hitting our goal of having metal comprise 20% of t…

Fall Protection Tops List of OSHA's Most-Cited Violations for 2017

Rules to protect construction workers from falls remained the most commonly violated standards on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) list of most-cited violations for fiscal year 2017, which ended Sept. 30, according to Bloomberg BNA.

However, the number of safety violations demonstrated a widespread decrease after years of dropping total inspection numbers. There were about 9,000 fewer inspections in fiscal year 2016 compared with fiscal year 2011. The preliminary violation numbers for last fiscal year also were calculated during a period that was three to four weeks longer than for this year's preliminary numbers. The numbers are preliminary because OSHA inspectors have up to six months following an inspection to issue citations.

Construction violations were the most commonly cited, which is not surprising considering construction site visits account for about half of OSHA's inspections. Other construction fall-related violations were ladder…

After Decades of Pushing Bachelor's Degrees, U.S. Needs More Tradespeople

FONTANA, Calif. — At a steel factory dwarfed by the adjacent Auto Club Speedway, Fernando Esparza is working toward his next promotion.

Esparza is a 46-year-old mechanic for Evolution Fresh, a subsidiary of Starbucks that makes juices and smoothies. He’s taking a class in industrial computing taught by a community college at a local manufacturing plant in the hope it will bump up his wages.

It’s a pretty safe bet. The skills being taught here are in high demand. That’s in part because so much effort has been put into encouraging high school graduates to go to college for academic degrees rather than for training in industrial and other trades that many fields like his face worker shortages.

Now California is spending $6 million on a campaign to revive the reputation of vocational education, and $200 million to improve the delivery of it.

“It’s a cultural rebuild,” said Randy Emery, a welding instructor at the College of the Sequoias in California’s Central Valley.

Standing in a cavern…

A Vehicle Policy is a Must for Company-owned Vehicle Operation

Contractors have many options when it comes to establishing vehicle policies for their business. They may choose to allow employees to take vehicles home or they may decide that vehicles are for business use only and must be locked in at the office each night. There is not one set policy that works for every roofing contractor, but no matter which type of policy you choose to implement, it’s important to have one in place.  Your business can be legally liable if you allow a bad driver on the road. If you fail to take reasonable steps to determine that the driver is qualified to drive one of your vehicles and he or she causes an accident, you could be liable under negligent entrustment. A negligent driver may also damage the company vehicle or incur a ticket, fine, or penalty that costs your business money and/or increases your insurance premiums. Get started by spelling out the basics of your policy, which might include: Requiring employees to have a valid driver’s license and performing…

What Role Do Contractors Play in Green Construction?

Owners and architects are typically the drivers of sustainable design, whether their goals are to achieve a certification like LEED or simply to ensure as little negative environmental impact as possible during the building's lifecycle. Contractors, too, are in a position to influence how green a project can be, both during construction and after completion. After all, it takes buy-in and ownership from all stakeholders to achieve a project's green ambitions. With invested clients and the products and systems to do the job, contractors today can make more of an impact on sustainability than ever before. The first step toward that objective is for the owner and design team to fully communicate the project's sustainability goals to the contractor as early as possible in the bid phase, said Kristin Schuster, a project architect with SWBR, in Rochester, NY. From there, the contractor can help shepherd along — and even improve upon — those goals as it carries out its responsibili…