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Job Site Theft is All Too Common

We all want to think that we can trust our staff and that they would never behave in a dishonest or malicious manner. Unfortunately, in this day and age, theft is all too common on the job site. In fact, professional industry estimates are that over $1 billion in losses every year are due to theft. The numbers have been growing ever since the mid-1990s and show no signs of stopping. Here are some tips to prevent job site theft and how you can mitigate the damage when these incidents occur.

Damages from Theft

The most obvious damage from job site theft come from the immediate loss of equipment and materials. You may suddenly not have the tools you need to perform a job. You might lose out on important construction materials from copper pipe to drywall.

This direct loss then leads to secondary losses: you have to pay extra money to replace the lost materials, and you may run overtime or over budget on the job as a result. This doesn’t even consider the loss in man hours as your crew waits for the needed tools and materials.

Why Construction is Targeted

Construction sites are often targeted for construction for several reasons. They often have poor security due to the very chaotic nature of the industry. This extends to off hours — nights and weekends — where things are often just parked and left unattended.

Equipment and vehicles have easy-access open cabs. A single key can operate most, if not all, of the equipment on a site. Record keeping is also often poor, meaning it’s hard to track when something goes missing.

Perpetrators of theft from job sites can include those who aren’t even employees, who simply break into the site looking for a quick smash-and-grab. They can also include workers who are desperate and in need of money, or very often can include disgruntled workers who feel they are “owed” something, or who have recently been let go.

job site theft

Reducing Theft

There are several steps you can take to reduce the risk of job site theft. When no one is working, keep the area well lit. Check up on things regularly and be sure your staff sees you doing it so they know you’re paying attention. Try to schedule supply delivery as you need it rather than stocking up right at the beginning of the job.

Maintain thorough records of all equipment, tools and materials and practice strong inventory management. Make sure that your perimeter is secured and locked down. Look into theft deterrents and recovery systems so that any equipment that is lifted can be tracked down.

Mitigating Damage

No matter how secure you are, there is always the risk that someone will find a loophole and engage in job site theft. In order to mitigate damage, you should always carry employee theft protection on your insurance policy. Standard insurance generally does not cover you against theft; specialized coverage is necessary.


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Changes in the Equipment Industry Over the Years

An Overview of Changes in the Equipment Industry

The construction industry is one fraught with peril and risk, but improved OSHA safety standards and constantly improving equipment and machinery work hard every day in conjunction with better insurance coverage to protect contractors and their workers. Let’s look at the history of changes in the equipment industry and how these changes have affected the business of construction and contracting.

1960s

The 1960s was a huge era in the construction industry. The Interstate Highway System was being built, bolstered by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 and would go on for a full 35 years. High-power, huge machinery was introduced in this era for the first time. New machinery in the ‘60s included high-powered scrapers to move dirt and rock, monster machines like surface mining draglines, huge steam shovels and 360-ton trucks for hauling material. In fact, of all the equipment introduced in this era, only hauling trucks have increased in size.

1970s

The oil crisis of the ‘70s increased demand for coal across the nation, and earth-moving equipment became all the rage. There was a waiting list of up to four years to get hold of large machinery during this era.

1980s

The country was hit by a major recession in the 1980s, which had a stark transformative effect on the equipment industry. In just a few years, many companies went under and others consolidated. In the space of ten years, a lot of companies disappeared from the landscape. The four major manufacturers of earthmoving equipment were Euclid, Harvester, Allis Chalmers and Caterpillars. Today, only Caterpillar remains under its original name.

1990s

In the 1990s, environmentalism became a major social and political movement, and its effects continue to be felt today. A wave of new laws were issued to protect the environment, including those regulating diesel emissions, which brought on many drastic changes in the equipment industry. During this era, new engine technology was developed that still delivered the needed power, but functioned at a much cleaner and more efficient level.

2000s

We are now into the second decade of the 21st Century and the industry continues to evolve and change. The recession of 2008 hit the construction industry hard, and a new model of equipment distribution arose. The focus now is no longer on companies owning heavy machinery, but leasing it as needed. In the 1980s, rental comprised less than 20 percent of the market. Now, over 40 percent of contractors lease, rather than own, their heavy machinery.

changes in the equipment industry

This presents challenges for equipment manufacturers who have to make available a variety of specifications to meet all the diverse needs of the industry at a rental level. This has resulted in fewer optional and luxury features and a greater variety of base-level operations.

Changes in the equipment industry have gone hand-in-hand with changes in the construction industry and the social and financial landscape, and insurance has changed to adapt to these new conditions. If you are looking to upgrade your insurance to the best coverage available, read up on specialized equipment coverage and give us a call for a review of your policy today.


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Benefits of Upgrading Equipment for Safety and Productivity

Benefits of Upgrading Equipment

Upgrading construction equipment can have significant positive effects in many areas. Yet, many firms expect their workers to continue using out of date equipment in an effort to save money.

Construction and contracting are two industries that understandably have to keep a tight watch on their budgets. Payment for completed jobs is often well worth the effort, but it can be months on end between the time the project starts and reimbursement finally happens.

As a result, these industries watch their budgets closely and are reluctant to invest in yet more capital without it being an absolute necessity. What these firms do not know is that forcing laborers to work with outdated equipment can actually cost the business money while also potentially putting workers’ lives in danger.

To illustrate this point, here are some of the top benefits of upgrading equipment:

Improved Productivity

Newer machines operate more efficiently and have features that make working easier. For example, newer models of cement mixers are often lighter and more maneuverable without sacrificing capacity. Workers can use them more readily for tasks like pouring a footpath compared to an older, more cumbersome model.

Aside from features like these, newer models of equipment generally operate more efficiently and result in more tasks completed at a quicker rate. Any time you want to balk at the costs of upgrading, consider the revenue and man hours you are losing by holding on to outmoded technology.

Reduced Downtime

Similar to the above misconception, many companies want to avoid implementing new equipment models because they are concerned about the disruption to work it might cause. On the contrary, the small amount of time it takes to train employees and move the new equipment to the site often pales in comparison to the downtime jobs experience as a result of faulty equipment.

Breakdowns and malfunctions present hazards to employees while halting progress. Even if repairs require a minor amount of fine-tuning or a replaced component, that machine may be out of commission for days or weeks at a time. Newer equipment breaks down less, is often easier to fix and utilizes new technology like onboard diagnostics to ensure less down time overall.

Reduced Chance of Accidents and Deaths

There were 796 construction deaths in 2012 and 2013, the highest of any business sector in America. Looking at just the workplace fatalities between October 2014 and August 2015, many of them involve heavy equipment.

While there is no telling which of these tragic fatalities were preventable, business owners should note that older equipment often has less failsafes and are more prone to deadly malfunctions. Any time someone wants to shrug off forcing laborers to tangle with equipment that is decades old, they should consider the cost of a worker’s fingers, leg or their entire life.

Safety thus becomes the biggest motivator when upgrading equipment. The boost to productivity and morale are second to the value of a human life that could never be understated.



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Best Safety Practices for Offloading Construction Materials

Safety should be first on the minds of every contracting business. Standards are becoming more stringent and effective every day. Following these OSHA guidelines can not only protect your financial interests and reduce lawsuits, but can protect your workers from serious injury that can result in months or years of rehabilitation. Here’s a look at the best safety practices for offloading construction materials to protect your workers and business from accidents and liability.

Applying Best Safety Practices

The construction and contracting industries often overlook or neglect safety issues when it comes to loading and unloading construction materials. Unlike warehouses, where such processes are a large portion of day-to-day business, on the construction site they are a prelude or afterthought of the daily job and focus is on the use of materials rather than loading and unloading.

It’s important to shift perspective on this. Lumber bundles, windows, roof trusses and other materials weigh hundreds of pounds, and a lot of workplace injuries result from lack of safety procedures in handling them. The more your business pays attention to moving heavy materials, the better protected you and your workers will be.

best safety practices

Protecting Workers

Some of the best safety practices you can implement to protect your workers include the use of loading docks, specialized equipment such as forklifts and loaders and the proper training in their use, and thorough safety training and education for workers. Constant supervision and updates as well as following OSHA safety measures for such practices will save thousands in legal claims and damages.


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Understanding Risk

Workers need to be thoroughly educated and trained in the risks involved with heavy lifting and awkward materials. The best defense against accidents and injury is knowledge. Common workers comp claims in this area include strains, sprains, bruising and fractures from improper lifting, dropped or spilled materials and supplies that are not properly restrained.

Equipment Use

Knowing and respecting the limits of equipment use is vital to safety standards. Employees that are using heavy equipment such as forklifts need to be thoroughly and properly trained and certified. No worker who is not certified should be in the area of the equipment, and proper warning and signage should be posted. Equipment limits should be thoroughly observed according to manufacturer’s guidelines.

Make sure that building materials are always centered on the forklift and kept as far back as possible. The lowest position on the platform should be used while the equipment is moving and loads should be piled and cross-tiered as often as possible.

Never adopt a casual attitude towards moving building materials. The application of best safety practices is vital to mitigating safety risks and protecting both you and your workers from accidents, lawsuits and liability. In addition, make sure that you are carrying the proper contractors insurance policy for when incidents do occur.

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Who Needs Inland Marine Insurance?

Inland marine insurance for contractors is an often-misunderstood product because of its bizarre name. Basically, inland marine insurance protects the transport of goods across land in the event that damage happens to them during their travels. Whether that damage happens as a result of construction materials shifting after a driver slams on their brakes or when a business van gets in a wreck that destroys thousands of dollars’ worth of tools, inland marine insurance will protect the commercial property of contractors.

As you can see, this product can prevent the huge costs of replacing materials, tools or equipment in the event of an unexpected accident. Prevent a nerve-wracking collision situation from being much worse than it needs to be by protecting the commercial goods being transported at the time.

Why Does Inland Marine Insurance Have Such an Odd Name?

Inland marine insurance’s name comes from a long tradition of financial products in America. Until the construction of the railroads and later the interstate highway system, transportation of goods over land was not nearly as common as it was now. Most “shipping” literally took place on ships.

Marine insurance covered the cargo carried by these ships in case they capsized, a fire broke out or some other incident occurred that could damage the transported goods. Shipping companies and other business people came to depend on marine insurance to reduce the risks of sending valuable goods across potentially turbulent waters.

Businesses that transported their goods over land as opposed to water began to demand that same coverage, especially as locomotives and automobiles made land transportation more realistic. This coverage was referred to as “inland marine insurance” to differentiate it from water-going transport. Even though trucking goods and equipment over land has become much more common, the name stuck.

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What Contractors Need Inland Marine Insurance?

With very few exceptions, all contractors and construction businesses should carry inland marine insurance. Even if you have commercial auto insurance designed specifically for contractors, the job site materials, tools and equipment you carry may not be covered as part of collision insurance. If these items do happen to be covered, coverage limits often fail to compensate for their full value.

Since materials like stone tiles and tools like plasma cutters can often cost tens of thousands of dollars, ignoring the risk of damaging them during transport can be a huge financial mistake. Most contractors are going to be carrying these items back and forth on a day-to-day basis as they travel from job site to job site or retrieve materials from suppliers. These contractors may not be aware of the limitations of their commercial auto insurance on covering these items. Should one of their employees get into an accident during work, they may suddenly be shocked to discover that thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars are expected to come out of their own pocket.

Do not let this situation happen to you. Any contractors that travel to job sites to perform work — which is nearly all of them — puts their business at risk when they transport materials without inland marine insurance. Find the coverage you need to stay confident and remain afloat even when accidents occur on the way to or from jobs.