Your construction equipment is what powers your livelihood. But, these tools don’t exactly last a lifetime. Without proper maintenance, they can become ineffective or even unusable. Since replacement costs can be very expensive, every contractor will benefit from learning how to prolong the lifespan of their tools. Read more
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.
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.
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.
Heavy equipment is a fact of life on construction jobs. Whether it’s a bulldozer, a scraper, a front loader, a forklift or a dump truck, the contractor would be nowhere without equipment. These machines, however, are as dangerous as they are useful. Improper safety and maintenance can result in deadly incidents. This is why it is vital to keep heavy equipment inspection guidelines on every job.
The guidelines published by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) are not very detailed when it comes to equipment inspections. However, there are general requirements that every job site must follow, so these are a good starting point for drafting your own checklist. OSHA guidelines include:
- Daily inspections
- Appropriate lights, barricades or reflectors to mark the vehicle
- Inspecting off-highway vehicles every shift
- Seat belts on all earthmoving equipment
- Well-trained inspectors
Inspections for equipment should include ensuring that it is in safe operating condition. All parts should be free from damage. Brakes, coupling devices, seat belts, parking system, safety devices and steering mechanisms should all be covered. In addition, conditional equipment such as fire suppression systems, lights, windshield wipers and defrosters should all be in solid working order.
Creating Your Own Checklist
These guidelines, however, are only the beginning of thorough inspection. While following them will keep you free from OSHA citations, they are certainly not the end of safety. Check the operation manuals for all of your equipment to see if there are detailed inspection recommendations.
If your equipment does not have these, discuss the issue with your equipment operators and create your own thorough checklist. You may want to even create several checklists for on-site use, general safety and systems. You can use the operating manual and OSHA guidelines to create detailed lists. Operators may also have important insight in those safety issues not covered elsewhere.
Introduction and Training
When your checklists are complete, call a meeting of all of your workers and go over what you have. Listen to any questions and concerns your employees may have and consider adjusting and updating your lists accordingly. Remember, the more detailed your list, the better your safety and risk of liability will be.
After finalizing your checklist, you will need to begin training. Each equipment operator should be thoroughly trained in your new safety and inspection procedures. This will ensure that no matter who is working the machine, they know the signs of risk and safety issues. It also ensures that in the event of illness or injury, there are multiple people who can perform adequate inspections.
Any number of accidents in the workplace should be viewed as unacceptable. The more rigorous you are in your safety procedures, the better off your workplace will be. Regular and thorough inspections will keep your job running smoothly and your workers safe. This translates into cost savings, both in maintenance and in liability claims. Do you have any specific recommendations for safety inspection checklists? If so, leave us a note in the comments below and let us hear your thoughts!
You’ve finally decided to get into the business of contracting and you want to be the best around huh? Well if you’ve got this this objective in mind then you’re going to need to get some trucks and equipment. Luckily for you, there are many options to choose from. Keep in mind that trucks come in very different shapes and sizes. Gas consumption and towing capacity might be very important to some, while comfort and cabin size might be preferred by others. Don’t get too concerned with the minor details because at the end of the day, your trucks and equipment are there to do work. Their value is only in their ability to provide utility and use for the contracting company.
Full-Sized or Compact Truck?
The First big decision you must make is whether you would prefer a full sized or a compact truck. Understand that you will be spending many hours in your truck commuting and transporting so this decision is key. If you decide to go with a bigger work truck there are three particular models we would recommend.
The Dodge Ram 1500 sports strong powertrain, smooth ride, and a well-trimmed cabin. This is our number one pick. It’s V8 Hemi and 5-ton towing capacity make it the ultimate contractors dream. Its roomier interior coupled with Bluetooth and storage space make it the king of “Big Guys”.
The Ford F-150 is second in our lineup. With 10 trim levels to choose from, three bed styles, and various engine options, it’s easy to see how this beast of a truck can be tailored to any contractor’s needs. Choose between V6 and V8 depending on your need for gas efficiency or brute strength. Additionally Ford’s Sync Technology allow multiple devices to be connected via Bluetooth.
The last pick on our list is the Chevy Silverado. It might struggle a bit behind the competition in terms of design but it still provides a good combination of in cabin storage, towing capacity, and a smooth ride. The benefit of this vehicle over the others is that it’s the only truck that offers the safety and convenience of OnStar, so go ahead and reassure your loved ones.
Once you purchase your work vehicle, and made your investment, you are going to want to protect yourself with the proper insurance. Commercial auto and truck insurance is something you will need if you intend to be in the contractor business long term.