News & Updates

Construction Sector in Saudi Arabia Experiences Growth

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The construction sector may be the fastest growing one in the Saudi Arabia's economy by 2015, Arab News reported. In fact, over the next three years, the Saudi construction market has a projected growth rate of 35 percent.

"Driven by increasing private and public investments in 2013, we are witnessing a definitive surge in construction projects in Saudi Arabia - particularly in the fields of social and transport infrastructure," Zeyad Al-Rukban, deputy general manager of the Riyadh Exhibitions Company told the newspaper.

Saudi Arabia officials believe their driverless, electric rail system will be the world's largest public transit program, according to Al Arabiya News. The first metro rail system in Riyadh, the capital, will include six rail lines, and will require thousands of construction workers. Its construction started this past week, according to Arabian Business.The 176-kilometer project is expected to conclude in 2019. 

Three foreign construction associations will design and build Saudi Arabia's $2.5 billion metro rail project. Not only will the system provide citizens with an innovative transit system, but it is  also expected to serve individuals with lower incomes, offer commuters the opportunity to avoid traffic and support the growing population. Al Arabiya News indicated the country's population is expected grow by two million in the next decade. With more people, the public transit option will reduce congestion in the streets.

Women in the capital will also benefit significantly. It is illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia, so the new system will allow women to travel around the city with ease, according to Al Arabiya News. The metro cars will include family sections to provide women have privacy.

In addition to this construction project, the Saudi government is updating its infrastructure from Riyadh to the Jordan, and anticipates the creation of another metro system in Makkah, Al Arabiya News added.


OSHA Offers Construction Workers Hazard Prevention Course

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Every year, more than 4,500 individuals die on the job, According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Another 4.1 million face a work-related injury or illness. In response to the high number of fatalities and injuries in the construction industry, the Training Center at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District in California challenged all construction industry employers to prioritize raising construction workers' awareness of potential worksite hazards.

The training center is offering the OSHA Standard for Construction Industry - OSHA 510 course. This includes information on Federal OSHA policies, procedures and standards. The class focuses on areas that are most dangerous such as welding, scaffolding, and electrical hazards, utilizing OSHA as a guide. Employees have access to this course at a number of locations throughout the Western region.

"Providing hazard awareness training to employees has been shown to be an effective strategy in preventing or significantly reducing worksite accidents," said Julia Dozier, director of the OSHA Training Center.

According to OSHA, the top four construction hazards include falls, getting struck by a vehicle, getting caught in or between parts of machinery or infrastructure and electrocution. OSHA recommends construction workers wear fall arrest equipment and high-visibility clothes near equipment and vehicles.

Other physical hazards include heat and cold stress and exposure to UV radiation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


4 Steps to Building a Strong Construction Website

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Do you want a place to share your construction photos aside from social networking sites? Are you trying to show potential clients and job​ seekers some of the great work your company performs? Do you want to spread the word about your firm? If the answer to these questions is "yes," it's time to start working on your website. 

Your website has to be multifaceted tool that not only acts as a place where you list all of your services and projects, but a place where workers can collaborate. While there are no set guidelines for how construction company websites should look, below is a list of rules that you should consider when creating or reworking your Web presence:

1. It Must Be Easily Searchable
Some construction professionals are more computer-savvy than others. Keeping this in mind, you should build your site so that even those with the most basic computer knowledge can search through your work by industry and project. This will not only give the business an opportunity to land more customers, but it is also your chance to demonstrate the expertise of your company. You don't want to miss out on the chance to inform your audience about some of your most impressive jobs, wrote Lee Zoldan, president of full-service marketing agency The Simons Group, in an article for Construction Business Owner.

2. Include a Contact Form
You don't want to put a lot of hard work into your website, but then make it difficult for potential clients and job seekers to get in touch with your business. An article for Remodeling magazine written by marketing professional Darren Slaughter stated that it's absolutely imperative that you have a contact form on each page of your company's site. It doesn't have to be big; maybe on a sidebar or on the bottom of the screen. But adding your firm's name, phone number, email address and comment section can be critical in the success of your website.

3. Build Client Portals
When you are able to engage customers to work with your company, you should make their experience as seamless as possible. This is why including client portals on your website is a good idea, according to Zoldan. Through these systems, customers can view the status of their jobs, make suggestions where they see fit and directly communicate with your business. Using client portals is an opportunity to sustain a competitive advantage over other firms in your industry.

4. Make it Accessible on Smartphones and Tablets
Do you want to potentially miss out on a large customer segment? Of course you don't. Build your website so it can be optimized for mobile devices. Many professionals in the construction industry don't have time to search for your site on their computer and do much of their research while on the go. Accommodate these mobile users by ensuring your site can be easily viewed on any gadget. Doing so can go a long way in forming stronger relationships with potential clients.


Construction Industry Needs More Workers

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The construction industry is facing a worker shortage, The Associated Press reported. As more young adults choose to attend college before joining the workforce and current professionals in the industry age and retire, there are not enough construction workers to fill job openings.

The Associated General Contractor of America conducted a nationwide survey of about 700 construction firms and found about three-fourths are struggling to find skilled workers. Additionally, 86 percent of respondents expect the difficulty of finding qualified workers will continue in the future.

Denver is getting hit especially hard. The city is among the top 10 metro areas adding jobs, according to the Denver Business Journal. While businesses in the city added 3,600 construction jobs over the past year, they will need more in the upcoming months. Michael Gifford, president and CEO of AGC Colorado, estimated local firms will need about 5,000 construction workers.

According to The Denver Post, the city is reconstructing the $500 million Denver Union Station and working on the FasTracks mass-transit project. These new projects demand more workers.

"This is the type of development…that has really never been seen in this country," Washington, general manager for the Regional Transportation District, told The Post.

To address this trend, the AGCA launched a plan, named "Preparing the Next Generation of Skilled Construction Workers: A Workforce Development Plan for the 21st Century," to attract more people into building trades. The effort includes funding charter schools that focus on construction and manufacturing skills and prioritizing immigration reform, the Denver Business Journal explained. The AGCA believes it's vital to attract workers from other countries to fill jobs, according to the Phoenix Business Journals.

Construction firms are doing their part as well. The AGCA indicated that 48 percent of respondents to its study are mentoring potential workers, 38 percent are attending career fairs and nearly half are offering craft workers internships. Additionally, some are increasing wages to stay competitive in the fierce construction marketplace, the Phoenix Business Journals reported.


US Homebuilding Rises in March

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Home-construction starts climbed 2.8 percent between February and March, bringing up the total number of new housing construction projects to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000, the U.S. Commerce Department reported. Single-family homes played a major role in March's increase in home construction. The number of new single-family home starts in March rose 6 percent from February, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. National Mortgage Professional Magazine reported that the increase in single-family housing starts translates to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 635,000 units in March.

Demand For Single-family Homes and Warmer Weather Increase Home-construction Starts
Single-family home construction boosts the economy, because it generates jobs and produces $90,000 in tax revenue, the National Association of Home Builders indicated, according to Newsday, a New York-based newspaper. Confidence in the single-family home market increased to 47 from 46 in March, The Associated Press reported. Even so, any readings below 50 still means builders see sales conditions as poor. 

Part of the overall rise in home-construction start rates is also attributed to the warmer weather. The Northeast and Midwest experienced a huge jump; construction in the Northeast edged up 30.7 percent, and building the Midwest rose 65.5 percent, according to The AP.

Analysts Anticipated Higher Home-construction Numbers
Economists projected housing numbers to hit 970,000 last month, leaving the increase in home construction below these anticipations. These numbers are also 5.9 percent below their levels a year ago, when there were 1,005 million home-construction starts, The U.S. Census Bureau reported.

"The missing bounce in building activity suggests some lingering weakness in this crucial sector of the economy beyond what could be attributed to the weather," Millan Mulraine, an economist at TD Securities, said in a recent message to the company's clients, according to The Wall Street Journal.

However, economists anticipate the housing market will improve with better weather conditions in the upcoming months.

Housing Market Still Faces Obstacles
Various barriers are blocking improvements in the housing market, from worker shortages to higher mortgage rates, according to The AP. CoreLogic, a real estate data provider, reported that prices were up 12 percent in February from last year. In addition, the Washington Post stated applications for permits decreased 2.4 percent from February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 990,000. Equipment World reported the drop in permits can be attributed to an 8 percent decrease in those issued for apartment construction. However, single-family home starts offset these numbers with a 0.5percent rise in permits to 592,000. Even so, the building permits are up almost 7 percent from last year.