Construction Firms and Pandemic Mandates: Inconsistency Is the Formula for Failure

construction firms and pandemic mandates

No doubt about it; these are strange times. We thought (hoped) the great mask debate would be history by now. We also hoped the pandemic of 2020 wouldn’t repeat itself as soon as it did. But now we have the Delta variant. Construction firms cannot avoid dealing with the realities of the situation any longer. 

Can Construction Firms Mandate COVID-19 Vaccinations?

No matter how you feel about it, mask-wearing and vaccinations are tricky topics. You may say that most of your workers are outdoors, so mask-wearing is unnecessary. But you have an office staff that works primarily indoors.

You cannot mandate office workers wear masks but let field personnel have a choice. You can, of course, but you’d risk discrimination charges.

What if your client insists? In addition to requesting eco-friendly materials, clients are demanding construction firms require employee vaccinations. If you’re working a government contract, that makes a difference.

The location of your project site matters, too. Many mask mandates expired in March 2021. As another fall pandemic looms, there are states, counties, and cities returning to mandatory masks. Arkansas says you cannot enforce mask-wearing. But some Arkansas cities disagree and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) puts most of that state at high risk.

California says fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks. But fully vaccinated or not, if your project is a retrofit for an open school or operative healthcare facility you probably – perhaps legally and even ethically – need to wear masks.

(California) employers must provide unvaccinated employees with NIOSH-certified respirator masks for voluntary use when working indoors…Employers must also make masks available to
vaccinated persons upon request.
Littler Insight

Legal Sources Advise Transparency, Consistency

Regardless of which approach you take, make sure every employee knows what your company is doing. “Updated policies should be clear and unambiguous and in writing,” says construction news source Construction Dive.

Before you issue mandates, consider the unique factors of your workplaces. Choose your policies wisely and make sure everyone knows exceptions exist. Documenting policy violations remains critical. Consult with local union advisors. And before you risk firing non-compliant employees, make sure your company can manage the turnover.

Construction Monitor Data Analytics

We pull building permit information pertinent to your company and your location. We then refine it so you won’t waste time sifting through pages of information you can’t use. And we do this every week.

Ask Construction Monitor about marketing tools you can use.

Construction Business One Year Post-Pandemic

construction industry

Of the key economic indicators for our country, housing starts are a leading indicator. Housing starts are sensitive to mortgage rates, which are affected by interest rates, so they represent about 4% of annual gross domestic product (GDP). The industry itself and your construction business are considered economic activities.

What’s Changed, Unchanged In 1 Year: Construction Business

The pandemic has had a lasting impact on how we live, socialize, and work. But we’re nothing if not adaptable. What has changed the construction industry since 2020?

  • Architectural design – This may be the most lasting change we’ll see. Commercial construction has altered itself to accommodate safety for traditional gathering spaces. Plan on better air filtration systems and adaptable, modular construction that limits contact.
  • Education – Online classes are zooming (bad pun intended) but there’s no replacement for hands-on training in a hands-on industry. Safer classroom layouts and mask-wearing have helped as well as virtual testing with remote proctoring.
  • Safety – The virus added “new considerations” to safety protocol, says the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER). We added masks as ongoing PPE (personal protective equipment).
  • Scheduling – Staggered shifts to accommodate fewer onsite employees have proven beneficial.

The shortage of skilled workers (“talent”) in the construction business hasn’t changed. One of the factors was the exodus of Baby Boomers from the workforce. And now, Gen-Xers (born between 1965-1979/80) are approaching retirement. The pandemic only exacerbated our worker shortage.

The average age of a craft professional
is between 48-52 years old.
Jonathan Arnholz

You need to consider employment incentives and marketing strategies to attract and retain talent to your construction business:

  • Create a positive workplace culture.
  • Develop a formal mentorship program.
  • Foster teamwork; camaraderie.
  • Include employees in the decision-making process.

Involving employees in company business is another strategy that makes sense. Every time you say, “I don’t have time…,” delegate that responsibility to an employee.

You don’t have time to sort building permit data and we do. But if analyzing that data for business development is also a time challenge, consider employee options. Because construction is an essential industry and critical to our economy, keeping it healthy just makes sense. The process begins with you.

Contact Construction Monitor for ideas.

Construction Industry Encouraged to ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves!’

construction industry

Among U.S. workforces, the construction industry has the lowest rate of workers willing to be vaccinated. Something we should be asking ourselves is “Why?”

It’s demeaning to the construction industry when statistics indicate we are less-educated and therefore make uninformed decisions about COVID-19 vaccination. Many construction workers say they work outside; not in cramped offices where one sneeze can contaminate the air for 15 people in seconds.

We feel automatically protected from some diseases because we work in a healthier environment. That’s misinformation. One study revealed between March-May 2020 the highest numbers of deaths from COVID-19 occurred among construction industry workers.

Social media has spread misinformation faster than the pandemic itself. It’s our job to share fact-based, solid information with our co-workers and employees. That’s why United Contractors developed “Roll Up Your Sleeves,” a resource website for construction industry contractors and leaders.

How You Can Increase Vaccinations in the Construction Industry

A Construction Dive survey found 93% of construction industry employers aren’t offering incentives for the vaccination, but they are encouraging it.

As a contractor and employer, your encouragement can be pivotal. You can coordinate with other companies to coordinate an onsite project vaccination event. (Then make sure you and the team leads are seen first in line for the vaccine.)

Communicate vaccine information with your crew regularly. “Make vaccines a tailgate topic,” says VaccinateConstruction.com. Ensure unions are on board with in-the-field concerns about the vaccine and verify your policies are consistent with union agreements.

Go to https://vaccinateconstruction.com/contractor-covid-19-vaccination-resources to access resources. Some of the information is in English and Spanish and includes:

  • COVID-19 compliance for employers
  • COVID-19 vaccine facts
  • Myths vs. facts
  • Printable, key messages/materials
  • Sample employer newsletter
  • Sample letter to employees
  • Social media toolkit
  • Vaccination webinar
  • Vaccine presentation/slides and PowerPoint presentation

The Power of Information

Construction Monitor building permit data is fact-based, solid information, too. And it’s got powerful business-building potential when you know how to use it. Construction Monitor professionals can show you how. Call 800-925-6085 or contact us today.

The Construction Industry and Coronavirus Vaccine

Construction Industry and Coronavirus Vaccine

It’s good to be king. But if you aren’t royalty, being an essential worker is right up there. We may never be able to adequately thank medical professionals for their sacrifices in 2020. Prioritizing them for 2021 COVID vaccinations is one way.

21 million healthcare workers and 3 million residents and staff of long-term care facilities receive the first limited supplies of COVID-19 vaccines during what’s known as Phase 1a of distribution. But essential workers were presented as potential recipients in the next tier, Phase 1b…CDC Plan

Construction industry essential workers are likely next in line. This can be a blessing for project managers or a bane for individuals that don’t want the vaccine. Either way, it will need careful consideration before implementation.

Can the Construction Industry Require Vaccination as a Condition of Employment?

In October 2020, the Associated General Contractors of America lobbied President Trump and now President-Elect Biden to implement a national plan for the construction industry distribution of coronavirus vaccine.

Construction industry contractors are already scrambling to enforce distancing and exposure tracking – and thanks to technology, this is possible. But can a construction industry project owner or contractor require coronavirus vaccination as a condition of employment?

Legally, probably not. The jury’s still out, so to speak.

Some attorneys recommend contractors be “aggressive” in encouraging vaccination by offering free jobsite inoculations during work-hours. Mandating medical personnel receive the coronavirus vaccine may be considered necessary and it makes sense. “You can’t operate a hospital with half your staff is infected,” said attorney Kevin Troutman.

You can’t build hospitals when half your construction workforce is infected, either.

Essential Business Information for Essential Workers

When Construction Monitor data professionals enter construction project leads into our database, the basic information – building permit applications – becomes usable, relevant analyses for your organization. It takes us several hours to refine and customize the information into what you need.

We do that for every subscriber. It saves you time and time is money. Most importantly, you can use that information to develop connections, leads, and make money. Contact us today.

9 Tips for Getting Your Contracting Business Through COVID-19

Contracting Business

The National Law Review offers this piece of advice for your contracting business: Get it in writing!¹ That’s especially true during the coronavirus pandemic that is threatening our nation’s population and economic health.

Coronavirus vs. Your Contracting Business

This situation is here and now. It changes every day, so if you had an optimistic 5-year plan for your organization, toss it away and get ready to move quickly. 

Here are 9 tips to get your contracting business through COVID-19:

  1. Be proactive – If you’re silent, clients and employees become extra-nervous. Communicate with emails and online how you’re managing this event. Share due diligence efforts and business recovery plans.
  2. Communicate early – By now you should have reached out to all project stakeholders to review terms of performance, timelines and costs. Strive to keep projects alive and get everything in writing.
  3. Consider mobility implementations – If administrative and back-office personnel can work from home, consider making the move to a mobile workforce.
  4. Contract modifications – Every project contract you have in the works needs to return to the table. Try to recover or offset rising costs.
  5. Coronavirus impact – The time to “wait and see” is past. Your contracts should have included “excusable delays” or “force majeure” clauses. Provide notice to all contract-holders how coronavirus has impacted contract deliverables, including supply chain issues. Cite all time/performance delays, real and predicted.
  6. Cybersecurity – If administrative people will be working from home, you may need to upgrade cybersecurity and educate them about not compromising confidential information.
  7. Prepare for new workplace safety requirements – Your employees will need masks and/or gloves to reduce virus cross-contamination.
  8. Put it in writing – Document every communication, every delay, every challenge… If you weren’t the kind of person to keep a “diary,” you need to start. Others are depending on you to show diligence in trying to salvage work.
  9. Update policies for paid days off/sick days – This is going to be a tricky area. Employees must not be “punished” for staying home when sick, but your guidelines must also be reasonable. Consult with HR and/or legal professionals to revise employment terms.

Construction Monitor is Here for You

What’s happening now is temporary, but it will change the way we do business forever. Your contracting business can prepare for growth, even while time seemingly stands still. Call 800-925-6085 or contact us to learn more about using construction data reports.

We wish continued good health for you and your company.

What Does COVID-19 Mean for the Construction Industry?

construction industry

By April 10, 2020, the Associated General Contractors of America revealed more than half of the construction firms in the United States had stopped work and 40 percent had laid-off employees, due to the coronavirus pandemic. 74 percent are seeking loans using the new Paycheck Protection Program.

In one week’s time, the number of canceled projects more than doubled. Shortages, including personal protection (masks) and construction materials, were reported; a small percentage of contractors reported equipment shortages.

“The construction industry is ready to rebuild our economy,” said AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr, “But that can’t happen without strong federal support and investments.”

EPC Contracts Will – or Won’t – Protect Construction Firms

Projects that aren’t being abandoned will need to return to the table for renegotiations, but not quite yet. No one is able to predict when our country will return to nearly normal.

All bets are off regarding future market shifts. No one can recall dealing with anything like this. Ever. Every industry in the world has felt the impact of COVID-19.

Most project developers feel as if we’ve gone far beyond standard “force majeure” language in construction contract terms. “Contractors will likely re-think whether traditional exclusions for relief are acceptable,” said law firm White & Case.

EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) projects have been scuttled due to government-imposed regulations. Cities, state, and federal shelter-in-place requirements may impact force majeure unless there are changes in law; specifically, changes in the language of some laws. Contracts between construction firms and developers and stakeholders/investors will come under close scrutiny.

Recovery is Guaranteed

We’re Americans. We always come together in times like this and we will come back better for it. Try to avoid hard-and-fast business decisions based on economic advisories. However…

After examining the numbers – coronavirus and economic trends – here are what equity analyst Preston Caldwell and CFA Karen Andersen suggest:

  • Restrictions will begin lifting in June 2020.
  • Social distancing measures will return as the virus resurfaces throughout the year.
  • The dire predictions regarding long-term economic disruption are incorrect.
  • Fiscal stimulus should prevent a collapse in demand.

“Overall, we still expect a modest long-run economic impact, with GDP down 0.9%,” said the researchers. “In our view, a COVID-19 recession doesn’t fit the mold of a 2008-style recession with longer-lasting economic impact.”

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