OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign

It’s widely accepted that construction is a dangerous business, particularly for those who work on roofs or projects high above the ground. A fall from as little as six feet above the ground can cause serious injury or death. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains an ongoing fall prevention program to address this important area of job site safety. Here are some of the elements of this program and how it helps prevent roofing falls.

  • prevent roofing fallsPlanning: When construction jobs will require employees to work on roofs or at heights, OSHA recommends that the job be carefully planned before anyone even sets foot on a ladder. Managers and safety professionals should decide how the job is to be done and what tasks will be involved. With this information, further decisions about safety procedures and equipment can be made. Remember that safety equipment should be included in the initial bid for the project.
  • Providing: Fall protection and safety equipment should be provided to all employees working at heights. Ladders, scaffolds and similar equipment appropriate to the job should be made easily and readily available. Harnesses and other personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) should be issued when needed. All anchors for attaching personal safety systems should be sturdy and capable of handing the stresses associated with a fall. PFAS equipment should be properly utilized and regularly inspected to ensure it’s in good working order.
  • Training: Make sure your employees know how to use their fall safety equipment by providing in-depth training on the use of PFAS gear and other necessary devices. Train employees in how to recognize potential fall hazards and how to avoid them when possible. Give instruction on what to do if safety equipment isn’t up to standard. Ensure your employees are granted both the right and the requirement to question safety procedures and to halt work if safety has been compromised.

Construction Monitor provides business owners, managers and supervisors essential data for success in the modern construction industry. Contact us today for the newest construction leads, and for more information on how to make your construction site safer and prevent roofing falls.

Onboarding Tips for Construction Firms

Bringing a new employee into your company can often be a confusing, even intimidating process for the new hire. Even more importantly to you, employee retention can be strongly influenced by the new person’s experiences in the first few days of employment with your company. Here are some onboarding tips for construction firms that will help make a new hire’s initial experiences pleasant and efficient, creating a positive impression of your company and making the job transition easier.

  • onboarding tips for construction firmsTake care of the basics quickly and efficiently: All new hires have to go through the basics, such as filling out HR paperwork, going over company policies and procedures, and learning the layout of the building. Put processes in place that make these sometimes-boring basics as quick and efficient as possible. For example, create orientation packages that include essential paperwork, employee handbooks, and other information ahead of time so that no one has to spend time looking for needed material while the new hire waits.
  • Welcome your new employee: Make sure your new employee is introduced to the team he’ll be working with as well as representatives of important departments such as HR, payroll and training. Use your social media account to extend a broader welcome to new hires.
  • Give new employees what they need to succeed: Start employees off right by giving them what they need to be successful in your company. Discuss your brand and company culture and make sure your new hire understands what’s expected of them. Identify your new employees’ strengths and skills and areas that may need improvement. Start training as early as possible and assign your best trainers to work with new employees. Issue equipment or other gear quickly and without hassle. Assign new employees a mentor or a “work buddy” they can go to for advice, insight, and answers to questions.

Construction Monitor offers an array of information services to construction firms, including data on recent housing starts and suggestions for best practices to use every day. Contact us today for more information on employee retention and for additional onboarding tips for construction firms.

Is This New Metal Roofing Design a Game Changer?

Metal roofing has a lot to offer in terms of versatility, durability and energy efficiency, but currently popular installation methods all have certain drawbacks. The new Eclipse Roof System was designed to let you enjoy the benefits of metal roofs without the drawbacks.

metal roofingAn Alternative to Standard Roofing Systems

Most metal roofs are either standing seam systems or through-fastened systems, with standing seam systems being by far the most common. In a standing seam system, there are no roof penetrations and the panel fasteners are concealed by raised steams, which helps minimize risk of leaks. On the downside, they’re more complex and more expensive to install than through-fastened systems.

In through-fastened systems, the panel fasteners penetrate the roof panels themselves. The usual choice of fastener is a nail or screw fit with a rubber grommet. These are easy to install, but as you might expect, the penetrations raise the risk of leaks.

The Eclipse Roof System from Lester Building Systems combines the advantages of both standing seam and through-fastened metal roofing in one low-cost, easy-to-install system. You’ll enjoy the simplicity of a through-fastened roof as well as the leak-free joints and streamlined appearance of a standing seam roof.

Improved Strength and Appearance, Reduced Costs

The Eclipse Roof System uses 36-inch wide, 26-gauge panels that are through-fastened with a unique, patented system of ribs and battens. The roof batten snaps over the ribs, keeping out the rain and concealing the fasteners. The result is a roof that’s both stronger and more weatherproof than a standing seam roof. You’ll also find the clean lines of the roof lend it a more polished, modern look.

The average standing seam roof panel stands at 12 to 19 inches wide, so the wider Eclipse panels speed up your installation work. The panels can be installed over open purlins, meaning you can forego the roofdeck. These advantages cut your installation and materials costs, leaving more room for your company to profit.

For more information on recent advancements in metal roofing, or new construction leads, contact Construction Monitor today.

The Growth of Modular Construction in Residential Housing

Increased automation, improved ecological sustainability, and a broader range of customization options have all contributed to the recent growth of modular construction. As more homeowners warm up to the benefits of this building method, your construction firm stands to benefit, too.

growth of modular constructionModular Building Has Come a Long Way

In modular construction, a complete building or an addition is constructed in a factory setting and delivered as one unit to the construction site. Off-site building methods like this have been used since the early 1900s, but the results were limited to uninspired cookie-cutter designs.

Thanks to recent innovations, today’s modular homes and additions are nearly as customizable as site-built homes. Your clients have countless options for floorplans, architectural features, and interior design. Additions can be made to blend seamlessly with the existing home both outside and in. Options for eco-friendly features have expanded, too, and include motion-sensing faucets, on-demand water heaters, and bamboo flooring.

Precisely because there are so many options, the process of building a modular home or addition starts off the same as for a site-built home. Construction firms offering modular building retain on-staff architects and interior designers to help clients realize their dreams.

Advantages for Your Firm and Your Clients

The advantages of building indoors is another factor in the growth of modular construction. With a site-built construction project, you’re under pressure to “dry in” the building shell while the weather is favorable. Because module construction isn’t subject to the whims of the weather, the drywall can be installed before the sheathing. This approach makes the whole building more airtight and energy-efficient.

Modular projects take 30 to 50 percent less time than on-site projects. The plumbing, tile and lighting fixtures are already there, so the module can be set in place the day it arrives. That means clients installing an addition won’t have to leave their home for as long as they would with traditional construction. You’ll complete more projects in less time and provide greater convenience to your clients.

For more information on the growth of modular construction, contact Construction Monitor today.

OSHA to Publish Rule on Silica Dust Safety

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is expected to issue its final rule on silica dust safety in the workplace in the latter part of 2016.

silica dust safetyAn article in the magazine Safety+Health, published by the National Safety Council, indicates that the final rule on silica dust was announced during a March 16 hearing on the U.S. Department of Labor’s policies and priorities.

A draft of the final rule was submitted to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget in December, which indicates that the rule could be expected to be published within a few months, the article reported.

Important Safety Standards in Construction

The rule will contain important safety standards and other information on how construction projects should deal with silica dust safety. For example, the rule will include data on exposure limits that detail how much exposure to silica dust will be considered acceptable.

Silica dust presents substantial dangers to respiratory health among construction professionals who are exposed to it. When inhaled, the dust causes lung tissues to thicken. It also causes scarring within the lungs. In severe cases, silica dust exposure leads to a condition known as silicosis, a type of lung fibrosis.

OSHA also notes that exposure to and continual inhalation of silica dust can lead to lung cancer and kidney disease.

Silica Dust Safety

Silica dust is commonly encountered in construction activities that involve the cutting, sawing, crushing, or drilling of stone products such as rock, concrete, brick, and ceramic tiles, OSHA reports. Industries that use large amounts of sand, such as foundries and glass manufacturers, are also likely to expose workers to significant amounts of silica dust.

The new rules on silica dust safety are expected to provide economically and technologically feasible ways to improve worker health and safety in all industries where silica dust exposure has been a problem.

Construction Monitor provides detailed information on construction industry trends and developments that affect the health and safety of workers and building occupants. Contact us today for more information on silica dust safety and for additional help interpreting and applying OSHA’s rules on silica dust safety in the workplace.

How Nest is Changing Smart Home Technology

Home technology company Nest is well known for producing some of the most useful cutting-edge devices for the residential market. Now, further advances in some of their most popular smart home technology products are making even more positive changes in how residents control and interact with their environment.

Home Automation

smart home technologyNest’s smart devices offer unprecedented control and automation, integrated seamlessly with other personal technology such as cell phones. Two new features added to Nest’s line of home technology products are making it even easier for homeowners to interact with their devices and enjoy the benefits of connectedness and automation.

In an article in Fortune, writer Stacey Higginbotham reports that Nest will add a way for more than one person to control the residence’s overall Nest account. The second addition uses geolocation to improve the Nest thermostat’s ability to tell if anyone is home and to make temperature adjustments accordingly.

The Nest Family Account allows up to 10 people to control the home’s Nest devices. This represents an evolution in thinking about home technology products that have typically allowed only one user to control operation, Higginbotham observed. The Family Account gives wider control for Nest’s thermostats, security cameras and smoke detectors.

The new feature added to Nest’s thermostats uses geolocation associated with users’ smartphones to determine if someone is in the residence. This technology is more accurate than the sensors and algorithms that Nest has previously used to detect someone’s presence in the home, Higginbotham noted.

Energy-Saving Improvements

This improvement in thermostat function reduces the chance that the thermostat will shift to energy-saving Away Mode even if someone is there. It also removes problems with temperature settings that could result if the thermostat was in an out-of-the-way location or installed in a place where it would be difficult to get accurate sensor readings.

Construction Monitor helps construction professionals stay up-to-date with the most recent information on technological developments that affect the industry now and in the future. Contact us today for more information on smart home technology and how the advances in this important area will change how residential spaces are built and lived in.

The Latest in International Green Building Trends

Thanks in part to both consumer and governmental influence, green building trends are increasingly relevant to today’s construction professionals. Understanding how these trends vary around the world will help you better plan for your company’s future at home and abroad.

green building trendsDriving Factors for Green Growth

In many developed economies, including the US, UK, Germany and Poland, the green building market has already reached a certain level of maturity, but continues to see moderate expansion. Developing economies, including Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and China have seen a much sharper increase in the percentage of construction projects that will meet green standards.

For most construction firms around the world, the top trigger for undertaking a green building project is client demand. The percentage of firms citing this trigger rose from 35 percent in 2012 to 40 percent in 2015. Increasingly strict environmental regulations are also encouraging investment in green projects.

In both cases, technological advancements support these green building trends. Both Germany and the UK plan to make BIM the standard for the design and management of construction projects, while Brazil and Saudi Arabia are moving in that direction.

Where the Jobs Are

Commercial construction, which includes office buildings, retail stores and hotels, is the top sector for green building worldwide. Some 46 percent of construction contractors expect to work on a green commercial project in the next three years. These projects are likely to be particularly popular in Germany, Poland, China and India. The UK and Australia, on the other hand, expect to see little in the way of new green commercial construction.

Institutional construction, such as schools and other government buildings, is the second strongest sector worldwide. In the US, however, it’s the sector where the highest percentage percentage of green construction projects are expected. 46 percent of US construction firms expect to take on a green institutional project in the next three years.

Retrofitting of existing buildings ranks as the third sector over all, but comes in first in the UK, South Africa and Singapore.

For more information on green building trends, contact Construction Monitor today.

New York City Lifts Ban on Cranes

Following a fatal accident, the use of crawler cranes in New York City was placed under exceptionally strict regulations. These regulations quickly became unpopular with construction contractors and crane companies who found they provided little benefit. Now the regulations are set to be replaced.

crane companiesTragedy Brings Stricter Regulations

On February 5th, 2016, a nearly 600-foot crawler crane collapsed as it was being lowered as a precaution against approaching 25-mile per hour winds. The collapse caused damage for a full city block, ending in several injuries and one death.

In response, the New York Department of Buildings ordered crawler cranes to be shut down and stored whenever winds were forecast to surpass 20 miles per hour or if gusts surpassed 30 miles per hour. Operators were to put the cranes into safety mode then secure them the day before high winds were forecast. Penalties for disregarding these regulations were increased from  $4,800 to $10,000.

Better Crane Regulations Ahead

Wind speeds of 20 miles per hour are a frequent occurrence in New York. So frequent, in fact, construction contractors found themselves shutting down their cranes on a regular basis to comply with the new regulations. These shutdowns caused delays leading to logistical and financial issues. Worse yet, some contractors and crane companies feel the regulations don’t necessarily improve safety.

Mayor Bill de Blasio assembled a task force to review and revise the city’s crane regulations, but the panel was criticized for its lack of crane experts. This task force has recommended returning, in part, to the old regulations which state that cranes must stop operation when winds reach 30 miles per hour or manufacturer’s specified limit.

The task force has also proposed two additional measures. One would require an operator on site unless the crane is designed for winds of 30 miles per hour or higher or it’s in storage mode. The other would prohibit any crawler crane that can’t safely operate in 20-mile per hour winds from use in a public space.

For more information on regulations affecting crane companies and other construction professionals, contact Construction Monitor today.

5 Green Construction Trends To Look Out For

The big push in green construction throughout 2016 will put an emphasis on creating energy-efficient buildings that have a low-impact on the health of the environment. Sustainability and energy efficiency are becoming more important to business, governments and consumers around the world. This opens up the possibility for new products that are environmentally responsible. Each year, more firms are shifting their focus to green building. In 2008, only 13 percent focused on green buildings. In 2013, the trend increases to 28 percent. 2015 reports showed as high as 51 percent of respondents aimed to include green building practices. Those who watch construction trends will benefit from keeping their eye out on a few key developments.

Sustainable and GreenSingle-Family Home Construction

Green construction is booming, and construction companies that take advantage of green trends will see greater profit margins. Companies are beginning to use more sustainable building materials since consumers are demonstrating that they are willing to pay for efficient buildings. This can include recycled content, easily replenishable resources, locally available materials and salvaged materials. Choosing companies that carefully regulate their resource uses is important to consumers, and it can result in a better outlook for the environment.

Smarter Technology

Homes are beginning to make better use of technology to anticipate the needs of the occupants. In home building, it’s becoming more common to integrate lights that shut off when nobody is in the room and use an economical heating and cooling system that adjusts to occupants. Construction crews are also using advanced technology to create plans and test designs for any issues. Designers can quickly change materials used in the building process to find the most economical and environmentally-friendly option for each project.

Emphasis on Renovations

In the field of construction, there is an increase in the trend toward renovations. This offers a more economical option for upgrading a location, and the process may add new technologies to make the building more environmentally friendly. With renovations. most of the original structure remains intact, but key elements like insulation and electrical systems can be upgraded to provide better energy efficiency. Entire heating and cooling units can be replaced, and the building gains from increased overall efficiency. Remodels are popular when renovating a building, and there are various enhancements that can be used to reduce mold, use durable materials and making the most of energy utility usage.

Multi-Family Housing

Single family homes are expensive to build, and they can have a negative environmental impact. Multi-family homes solve this problem by dividing a home into more than one smaller units. These homes still offer the convenience and privacy of a home, but they take up less room and many of the resources can be shared between homeowners. Green multi-family homes are expected to increase to 79 percent of all multi-family homes that are built by 2018. Customers are willing to pay for green homes, and customers can save even more money when the cost of homeownership is reduced through the selling of multi-family homes.

High-Efficiency Products

Air conditioners, heating systems, electrical systems and alternate fuels can help reduce energy expenditures and make a building green. Consumers have shown an interest in paying for technology that can reduce their environmental impact. As the technology becomes more widespread, it will also become cheaper to produce. By taking advantage of the current interest in high-efficiency products and green construction techniques, construction companies can increase their profits while providing customers with what they need.

The market is continuing to favor green building. Construction companies that don’t take advantage of these trends are going to find themselves left behind as other companies begin to incorporate green technology in their homes and buildings. Buildings that offer renewable energy are on the rise, and the future of green building will require an initial investment in new technology and building techniques. However, the future of green building is bright as consumers continue to demand more energy-efficient building practices.