Showing posts from 2017

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…

Hurricanes and Price Gouging

Hurricanes have brought a myriad of legal issues to the forefront.  One of the most important things for any roofing contractor or supplier to remember during hurricane repairs are the Florida-specific, price gouging laws.  Florida Statute 501.610, commonly referred to as the Price Gouging Statute, states that during a declared state of emergency the rental or sale of essential commodities for an amount that grossly exceeds the average price for that commodity during the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency is unlawful. The statute defines a “commodity” as any goods, services, materials, merchandise, supplies, equipment, lumber, and other products necessary for consumption or use as a direct result of the emergency. Inflated prices on the rental or sale of the commodities is unlawful unless the increase in the amount charged is attributable to additional costs incurred in connection with the sale of the commodity.

With regard the roofing industry, the Price Gouging…

Five Effective Ways to Create a Risk-Competent Culture

Haley & Aldrich, an environmental and engineering consulting firm, has issued an Action Report: Stop Talking About Safety Culture and Get Real About Risk. The report addresses the ways companies can prevent workplace incidents and recommends that manufacturers shift their focus to risk-competence rather than a safety culture focused on compliance alone.  The report dispels safety myths, addresses problems with a safety compliance culture and identifies strategies companies can take to reduce incidents in the workplace. “We’ve seen time and time again how some manufacturers are lulled into a false sense of security by complying with safety checklists instead of taking a good, hard look into their potential areas of risk,” said Danyle Hepler, associate scientist, at Haley & Aldrich. “For example, on the day that the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion killed 11 people, ironically, executives were at the facility to celebrate the company’s seventh year without an incident. The compan…

What Contractors Need to Know About OSHA's New Silica Rule

After a few legal fits and starts, as well as extra time for review and input, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's new silica standard for construction is scheduled to go into effect about a month from now, on Sept. 23.

What that means is contractors who engage in activities that create silica dust — that is, respirable crystalline silica — such as by cutting, grinding or blasting materials like concrete, stone and brick, must meet a stricter standard for how much of that dust workers inhale. The same goes for employers of tradespeople working around such activities.

The new standard also specifies what services employers must make available to workers who are exposed to high levels of silica dust and the training required of those who are at risk.

Inhaling silica dust can lead to silicosis, an curable lung disease that can be fatal if severe enough. Those with too much silica exposure can also develop lung cancer, kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary d…

Non-Compete and Confidentiality Agreements Can Help Address the Problem of Employees’ Side Work

Many employees in the roofing industry moonlight or perform side jobs after work or on the weekend. There are a lot of differing opinions on whether side work is acceptable or not. In some cases, if the side work is not taking business away from the company and the company’s resources and tools are not being used, a contractor might decide it’s all right for employees to do side work. In other situations, the side jobs may be competing with the business, cause the employee to perform poorly on their day job, or result in the employee habitually leaving early to get to their side job.

Whatever your stance on the situation, contractors should have solid policies in place on the issue in their employee handbooks and should consider asking all employees to sign a non-compete and confidentiality agreement. Confidentiality agreements, also known as non-disclosure agreements, protect private, proprietary information and trade secrets and should explicitly define what is to be kept confidenti…

Wearable Tech Continues Advancement in Construction

Occupational injuries and illnesses are estimated to cost the United States as much as $250 billion a year. So cutting down on insurance costs in this area makes huge financial sense.

In the construction industry, many companies are turning to wearable technology to better manage risks and incidents – and there are insurance benefits to be leveraged from this.

Triax Technologies is one company working in construction wearable tech. The Connecticut company launched its sensor technology this year.

Pete Schermerhorn, chief operating officer at Triax, said his company’s product is worn on all workers’ belts on a construction site. The sensors track all workers’ whereabouts, have an emergency locator button for accidents and injuries.

“It’s a safety system for construction. If someone slips, trips, or falls on site, this sends an automatic notification [to a site supervisor] that someone has hit the ground. The system logs how high they fell, where they fell on site, and who else was in t…

Revised Form I-9 Released by Citizenship and Immigration Services

Last week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a newly-revised Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, which will be made mandatory starting Sept. 18, 2017.

Employers may use the revised version immediately (revision date of 7/17/17 N), but may also continue to use Form I-9 with a revision date of 11/14/16 N through Sept. 17.

Changes to the revised form include:

A new name for the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, which has been changed to the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER).The changed language in Section 2, which now reads: “Employers or their authorized representative must complete and sign Section 2 within 3 business days of the employee’s first day of employment.”The List of Acceptable Documents includes the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) as a List C document.All certifications of report of birth issued by the U.S. Department of State (Form FS-545, Form DS-1350 and Form FS-240) h…

Construction Industry Could Lead the Way on Closing Gender Pay Gap, RICS Says

The construction industry could become a leader in closing the gender pay gap, according to a new survey.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that nearly half of construction workers predict the gap will be less than 15 per cent by April 2018. It is currently 18.1 per cent.

More than one in ten respondents said they thought that there will be no gender pay gap at all by April 2018, which marks the end of the UK Government’s mandatory gender pay reporting period.

However, this positive sentiment is markedly absent in the nation’s capital, with Londoners in the construction sector predicting an average pay gap of 21 per cent

Despite a positive outlook, the research found that businesses still need to do more to tackle gender inequality and sexism in the industry.

Nearly a third of women surveyed said they thought sexism holds them back from pursuing senior roles in construction, whilst 38 per cent of men said their skills are better suited to the sector than women.

New Homes Will Now Require Solar Panels in South Miami, a First in Florida

July 18, 2017

Anyone building a new house in South Miami — or in some cases renovating existing ones — will have to install solar panels after the city commission approved a groundbreaking law Tuesday night.

The measure, the first of its kind in Florida, will go into effect in two months on Sept 18.

The ordinance passed 4-1 Tuesday night, with commissioner Josh Liebman dissenting.

Under the rules, new residential construction would require 175 square feet of solar panel to be installed per 1,000 square feet of sunlit roof area, or 2.75 kw per 1,000 square feet of living space, whichever is less. If the house is built under existing trees, the shade may exempt it.

Home renovations that replace more than 75 percent of the structure or extend the structure by more than 75 percent would also have to follow the new ordinance.

South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, a biology professor at Florida International University, has championed this measure. His entire home runs on solar and he drives …