News & Updates

OSHA Holds National Event to Raise Awareness of Fall Safety

on . Posted in Construction industry trends

Falls from elevated heights are the leading cause of death for construction workers, accounting for 269 of 775 total construction fatalities in 2012, according to OSHA. All of these deaths were preventable. To raise awareness of this devastating trend, OSHA is holding the National Fall Prevention Stand-Down from June 2 to 6. The voluntary event is a time for employers to speak with employees about safety.

Many people in the industry are invited to participate, such as employer's trade associations, federal, state and local governmental units, professional societies and independent contractors. Thousands of employers and more than 1 million workers nationwide are expected to participate the event, according to a press release from OSHA.

"Now is the time to make sure all construction workers come home at the end of every workday," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez in OSHA's press release.

Contractors and construction management professionals looking to participate should consider assessing their current fall prevention program. Before beginning the stand-down, employers can determine when and how long it will last. Sessions should bring up topics regarding hazards, safety policies and expectations. It's best to make the experience positive and interactive as a way to foster an informative conversation for all involved.

3 Tips for Contractors to Boost Profits

on . Posted in Construction industry trends

Instead of simply raising prices to increase profitability, construction company owners can employ more effective methods to improve their bottom line. From enhanced financial management to lean construction practices, contractors can lead their company in the right direction.  

  1. Put on a Business-Oriented Hat 
    For Residential Pros surveyed 100 individuals, requesting ideas for contractors to boost profits. A couple ways project managers can achieve business goals is to learn how to better utilize balance sheets and job costs. These are basic business skills that can help contractors know where their money is going, giving them insight into their profit margins. Another way to get ahead in the fiscal landscape is to negotiate with suppliers as there can be early-payment discounts and other deals available. Contractors can seek out training or research ways to become a better financial leader. 

    Construction Business Owner said some technology tools can provide real-time updates, providing construction business owners insight into their cash flow. Staying aware of billing and expenses can allow businesses to avoid penalties, which can increase profits. 
  2. Adopt Lean Construction Practices to Improve Efficiency 
    Construction Today indicated efficiency is when construction workers eliminate waste and utilize all of their resources, which saves money. Another way to cut costs is to ensure crews are mindful and comply with safety regulations. Additionally, construction management professionals who have the ability to schedule and oversee employees can optimize work and wages paid.

    To sum this up, lean practices align with efficiency. Lean construction is the process of maximizing value and minimizing waste. When contractors implement lean practices into their company, they have a better chance of increasing profits. In fact, 64 percent of lean practitioners in the construction industry found they are more profitable, according to a report compiled by McGraw Hill Construction in 2013.

    A way to implement lean construction practices is to maintain an inventory of supplies. Not knowing what contractors have on hand could lead to unnecessary orders, wasting supplies and money. 
  3. Clear Communication can Decrease Productivity 
    Poor communication and planning affects productivity. If construction workers fail to receive information regarding work flows and deadlines from project managers, employers may risk the possibility of increasing overtime. Construction workers need to be in the know to perform their work well. When they lack information, they could become agitated, as they may need to search for materials or wait for other employees to arrive. If employees are waiting around to start working at their job sites, but there are no materials yet, they are missing out on opportunities for achieving their financial goals in a timely manner.These circumstances can decrease productivity.  

At the end of the day, customers are the lifeblood of a profitable business. If customers are upset about a business matter, Synergy-Group recommended that contractors and workers ask the customer to write down a complaint, ask for additional details and, most importantly, show empathy. 

These customers can help contractors grow their business. When owners take the opportunity to appease customers, they can be reliable references. 


Greenville Residents Seek Regulations on Construction Hours

on . Posted in Government regulations on construction

Greenville, South Carolina is experiencing a high demand for renovations, according to Greenville Online. To make up for poor weather conditions, construction workers need to work for most of the day to meet deadlines. Currently, contractors can build anytime from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., any day of the week.

However, many homeowners and residents in the area are seeking to establish new hours to reduce nighttime construction noise. Noises related to construction work include back-up alarms, slamming of tailgate, hoe rams and grinding machines, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The city's noise ordinance, which was updated in 2004, regulates dogs barking and people yelling, among other disturbing sounds, but not construction machinery.These sources of noise are exempt as long as it occurs during daytime hours.

City council members are debating whether they should address this issue by developing an ordinance that specifically deals with appropriate construction times. However, contractors worry they won't get enough time during the day if workdays are shortened.

Mike Freeman, president of the Home Builders Association of Greenville, told Greenville Online that stopping construction before 9 p.m. would delay projects.

Councilwoman Amy Ryberg Doyle said they are asking builders and neighbors to work this out and come to a resolution. It may not require city regulations, unless the noise increases and the problem continues.


How Construction Companies Can Optimize Business Operations

on . Posted in Construction industry trends

Construction companies can't afford to run an inefficient business. Within the past couple of years, contractors have faced difficult economic conditions, unpredictable weather patterns and low demand. Given all of these obstacles, it's vital for companies to focus on growth.

ERP Software Addresses Construction Firm's Inefficiencies
One tool that ensures a company runs smoothly is an enterprise resource planning software program. It saves money, drives growth and improves performance levels, according to SAP, an ERP vendor.  

ERP is an integrated business management software program that collects, stores and manages business data. This may include product planning, cost and development. Construction companies are just starting to adopt ERP software. With software, contractors can perform more effectively. 

Construction Firms Streamline Business Operations with ERP Software
ERP software helps correct construction firms' ineffective practices, while integrating all applications into one system. This allows all employees to access data on- and off-site. Additionally, contractors are able to make informed decisions, anticipate delays and adapt to evolving market conditions. All of these improvements make a big difference in profitability. 

ERP solutions incorporates a bunch of functions into one space. For example, contractors with ERP software can tap into the program to strengthen relationships with owners, designers, subcontractors and suppliers, attract and retain a talented and productive workforce and reduce operational risk. All of these benefits come in one technological package.

Contractors Should Consider if ERP Software is a Good Fit
However, before investing in an ERP system, contractors should determine if the application allows the company to become a more efficient entity. ERP Focus suggested construction firms look into whether the ERP system meets the company's unique needs. From transportation to LEED certified buildings, construction work varies, and ERP software programs should support each industry accordingly.  

Construction firms should know whether the technology can sustain growth throughout rapid economic changes. ERP Focus recommended that companies find out if the ERP helps the system work wirelessly. If individuals are at different sites, it's vital to have a system that enhances communication between the two parties. 

ERP Software Helps Companies Adapt to Changes
The construction industry is becoming more complex. According to CTS Guides, contractors are facing high costs, stricter regulatory mandates for governance and risk management and stronger environmental demands. To keep up with these changes, construction firms need to focus on top-notch project management.

Successful project management endeavors require skilled employees with effective tools. When constructions workers have ERP solutions at their finger tips, they are able to perform well and drive efficiency and profitability. Ultimately, ERP software helps companies stay on top of their game as the industry evolves. 


Minnesota Construction Firms Struggle to Fill Positions

on . Posted in Construction industry trends

Minnesota's government is backing more than $1 billion in statewide building and construction projects, but the state's construction industry can't keep up, according to the Star Tribune. Construction firms across the state are facing a worker shortage.

Rocky Economic Climate Affects Construction Workforce
There are a number of reasons why the industry does not have enough workers. During the housing crash and the Great Recession, the industry shed thousands of jobs, The Associated Press reported. Many of those workers decided to leave the industry all together, given the volatile economic climate. It's even harder to reengage those former employees because the industry is now paying less than before the recession, Minnesota Public Radio reported. Lower wages for workers make it a less appealing field.

Additionally, the construction industry lost 2,200 jobs from March to April, according to  the Pioneer Press. This is partially attributed to the weather.

"No question weather's had an impact," David Siegel, executive director of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities, told the Pioneer Press. "It's truly been a challenge from that perspective. And we're still hearing that banks are reluctant to make loans for home construction. Credit is still tight."

Despite these setbacks, the construction industry is thriving. In fact, construction is the fastest-growing industry in the state, MPR reported. According to Finance and Commerce, the sector added 7,158 construction jobs from April 2013 to April 2014, an increase of 8 percent.

The Construction Climate is Shifting
Contractors across the state are having a hard time finding experienced tradesmen. To address this issue, many firms may increase wages to attract workers. Additionally, contractors may also consider hiring workers with fewer skills and experience and lower requirements. These changes are shifting the construction industry landscape. Many applicants can be more selective, now that they have numerous employment options.

The labor shortage in the construction industry is forcing many contractors to modify their hiring practices by offering potential new employees better benefit packages, higher wages and worker training programs. The construction industry must get aggressive in attracting and training the next generation of construction professionals in order to keep up with the growing demand for civil and architectural construction projects.