Safety and Your Construction Crew

Help your construction crew understand safety is for them

Safety counts

The most important tool in your “safety toolbox” is found in the minds of your workforce. Therefore, the first hurdle to overcome is the mindset which incorrectly identifies safety and productivity as enemies of one another.

Consequently, it is your job to make certain your subs and employees understand that safety and productivity walk hand in hand.

From the human point of view, no one wants to see someone be injured or killed. That simple.

In addition, from the stats point of view, when safety measures go unheeded (and someone is injured or killed) productivity takes a hike. Also, that simple.

Safety now

Let’s take it down a level. Remember having this conversation with your children? “Stop that! Someone is going to get hurt!” Then, you hear back, “Nobody has gotten hurt so far.”

Similarly, there are times even adults tend to play the nothing-bad-has-happened-so-far card. You know what I mean, you’ve seen it:

  • Not using PPE
  • Disregarding proper procedure when using or repairing tools and equipment
  • Improperly placing ladders or temporary access apparatus
  • Neglecting to disconnect electrical power
  • Entering unprotected trenches or other spaces

Mark Twain, in Innocents Abroad said, “He cuts a corner so closely now and then . . . that I feel myself ‘scooching.’”

For instance, it’s likely you’ve been on a job site where you felt the need to “scooch.” Removing the scooch isn’t easy, yet it is worth it.

The bravado factor

 

A LiveScience article titled, Why Do People Take Risks, mentions that some “. . . desire to venture past the limits of safety in pursuit of a rewarding experience.” Likewise, in the construction industry, the rewarding experience may be as basic as a paycheck. Or, it could be a misguided attempt to fit in with the crowd or please the boss.

The second hurdle of the safety quandary is the bravado factor inherent in many of the people drawn to the construction industry. Certainly, it isn’t that they have a death wish or a desire to be injured. They often see the risk as less than others might perceive.

Safety is No Accident

Instilling a safety-first mentality in your subs and crews is imperative.

Make certain they understand you want them to stick with safety procedures. Help them see it will help keep everyone (including their fellow workers) safe.

Yeah, I know, safety training can be expensive and time-consuming. That’s because safety is so blasted valuable, in every respect.

Safety story

A rich man needed to hire a chauffeur to transport his dear wife to their beautiful new home. A mountain top home. Therefore, the driving job required great skill as the road to the home clung to the side of the mountain. This single-lane road had an edge with a deep drop to the driver’s left.

The rich man took all three candidates to the site and gave this instruction, “Show me your skill for driving on this treacherous road.”

The first candidate drove slowly, slowly up the hill with his tires only inches from the precipitous edge, in an attempt to prove his skill. He was told he would not be needed.

Subsequently, the second driver took the same route with his tires only inches from the drop. And, eager to prove his skill, drove at a higher rate of speed. He too was dismissed as a candidate.

However, it was the third driver who got the job. He was the only one who drove as far away from the edge as the car would allow.

You get it. Most importantly, be sure your employees get it too.

It is our desire this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) helps commercial construction contractors build better building businesses. http://www.schulteandschulte.com/blog/

Providing Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. Call us! 866-629-7735

 

Grow an Established Construction Business – Part 2

Construction management of project risk and adopting new technology

Construction business growth

Construction, at its very heart, is exhilarating. Being part of an industry that manufactures the clients’ desired product on site is challenging, stimulating, and fulfilling.

Growing a construction business is hard work and requires more than wishful thinking or hoping things will fall in place. In part one of this three-part series we looked at one area, “dealing with changing regulations” which contractors must heed in order to succeed. If you haven’t read it yet, take a moment and jump over to see where this post originates.

In this second part we’ll be look at “managing project risk” and “dealing with new technology.”

Manage construction project risk

Many subcontractors find themselves dealing with insufficient management of project risk. This article from ConstructConnect, titled Identifying and Managing Construction Project Risks deals with identifying, managing, avoiding, mitigating, and accepting risks. It is well worth the time it takes to read.

There is more to scrutinize. Sometimes, the things which we don’t think of as a risk (such as paying your employees for each full day of work) can be rather a risky business after all. One of our fellow accountants shared a story about how one of her clients was very hesitant to purchase a recommended piece of software. He eventually did follow her recommendation.

The software she suggested is used for employee time tracking and scheduling. Within the first month of use, her client discovered (among other things) that he had one long-term, trusted employee who was checking into the jobsite in the morning, getting the crew set up, then leaving the site and spending most, if not all of the day on side jobs. Yeah, sometimes what you find out, stinks!

Other risks to consider

  • Seasonal slowness
  • Injuries to third parties
  • Faulty work by the crew
  • Missed deadlines
  • Employees providing less than stellar customer service
  • Not adopting tech soon enough to keep up with the competition

Using your own (hard won) experience and information from the above linked article, you can begin putting together your own list of possible risks then begin defining ways you can manage, avoid, mitigate, or accept them.

Plan for and adopt new technology

The list is long concerning the technology available to today’s construction subcontractor. So long, it can be dizzying. In one of our recent articles, Technology Isn’t the Focus, Business Is, we dealt with the “why” of choosing the right tech for your subcontracting business.  In the end, just as with all your other business choices, the reason for choosing certain technological solutions is to better serve your clients.

Yet, there is more

Having the best tech in the world won’t mean anything if you’re unable to get buy-in from your employees and subs. This article from Forbes offers excellent information concerning how to get employees to really use new technology.

For your employees, understanding why the new technology is an improvement from what they had before is paramount. And, part of that understanding must rest in the portion of the brain that always asks, “what’s in it for me?” Plus, your workers and subs are likely to have a few follow-up questions, like “How does this affect me?” and “How will it change the way I work?”

An example

Say you want to introduce GPS tracking to your crew. Some of the perks you can mention to your employees are:

  • No “he said – she said” with clients. GPS provides employee proof of service.
  • There will be a cut back on paper work giving your team more time to focus on serving the client.
  • They will be paid for all hours actually worked.

Your job is laying out “a vision for the future” and providing an explanation for how the new technology will improve the business, thereby improving the lives of your people.

Improve the lives of your employees and subs

Technologies that require multi-day training programs and hefty user manuals are more likely to cause employee rebellion and perhaps even stalled adoption. You do well to remember that while functionality is critical user-friendliness is hyper-critical.

Customize training for individual users. For example, some may want a day long, in-house demonstration, while others would prefer online training to be done at their own pace. It is best to get influencers from your company onboard as quickly as possible. They will help others understand the how of using the new tech as well as the why for the sake of the company as well as the individuals involved.

There’s no time to waste

It is no longer a matter of waiting around to see if the new tech is “worth it.” The tech available today allows you to provide better organized projects, reduce onsite accidents, and stay competitive.

While you may think there is some risk involved in adding technology to your company, it is time to realize, there is even greater risk if you don’t.

Look for this next

Next week, we’ll take a look at preparing for financial needs in advance and creating documented, sustaining processes.

We’ve created a waiting list for those who are prepared to work with us in growing their construction contracting business. To get in on “the good stuff” call 480-442-4032 or get in touch here.

Grow an Established Construction Business – Part 1

Grow a construction business

You’ve gone beyond finding your first client. You’ve gotten past all the start-up issues. You are ready to take the next steps to grow and prosper your construction business. Grow and prosper in ways which are likely to surpass your original dream.

It is fun to look back on and remember those heady days when you first became a business owner. It is even more fun to look ahead at what you’ll accomplish next.

Now it is time to roll up your sleeves and get to work – on the next steps.

Grow – it isn’t an easy task, yet it is enjoyable

There is so much involved; from mindset to cold sweat, from legislation to duration, from tool advance to tech enhance – there’s just a lot going on.

Think about it. Consumer behaviors are changing, the culture is shifting, and it is happening rapidly. It’s rather exciting!

You’ve brought your business this far. And now, the real work fun begins.

Grow – the next steps

The first thing to consider is your own attitude and a willingness to position yourself as the owner of a growth-oriented company. From there you can look at specific areas which need your attention to facilitate growth.

The areas we’ll be discussing in this three-part series are:

  1. Dealing with changing regulations
  2. Managing project risk
  3. Planning for new technology
  4. Preparing for financial needs
  5. Creating documented, sustaining processes

Deal with changing regulations

Staying on top of all the changing regulations isn’t a job for the faint-of-heart. It takes time as well as a team of trusted advisors. Following are five suggestions which will help you in your efforts.

Join a trade association. For big picture insights into which regulations to be aware of in your segment of the construction industry, joining a trade specific association is a no-brainer. A good association will keep you informed of upcoming changes.

Subscribe to magazines and online industry related blogs or websites. One type of website that is helpful concerning construction regulations is that of attorneys who specialize in construction law. Put your search engine to use. The search can be as simple as “construction attorney [your state] dot com” Search through and find the ones which keep up-to-date relevant posts then subscribe or bookmark.

Track down a tax advisor. Because you’re not only dealing with federal taxes you will do well to locate an advisor who is abreast of the regulations in your state. One recommendation we make for our Arizona clients is Conover Asay. If you’re unsure who to contact in your state, you may wish to ask your fellow contractors who they use and why they recommend them.

Find a human resource expert. Freelance human resource firms are an excellent way to stay on top of regulations concerning employee and subcontractor issues. We recommend Lynda McKay of HRextension to our clients.

Locate an accounting advisory firm. (And yes, that’s us. 😉) Beside the fact we know how to deal with your sales tax issues, we’re excellent at helping you use the information obtained from your tax and human resource advisors. They can tell you what the rules are, we can help you make sure your firm remains compliant.

Grow through the use of proper resources

Finding the right resources as well as discovering ways to stay on track will be your biggest challenges through the process of growing your construction contracting business. Our clients tell us we’re good at assisting in both areas. In next week’s post, we’ll tackle “managing project risk” and “planning for new technology.”

We’ve created a waiting list for those who are prepared to work with us in growing their construction contracting business. To get in on “the good stuff” call 480-442-4032 or get in touch here.