We live in a very stressful society. People seem to live on the edge of stress and high emotions at all times, and there is a very real worry that a formerly mild-mannered employee could snap at any time. Incidents of workplace violence seem a constant in the media, and no contractor wants to risk such a thing happening on their job site. Here are some tips and best practices to keep in mind so that you can prevent violence in the workplace and handle incidents that do arise. Read more
Every employer dreads an audit, whether it’s from OSHA or from your workers compensation insurance company. The process, however, doesn’t have to be a pure nightmare. In fact, if you prepare properly, you can make the audit relatively painless and can even use the results to improve your own practices. Here’s some advice on how to prepare for a workers comp audit and protect your construction and contracting business. Read more
Why it is Vital to Hire a Licensed Contractor
When you need to hire a contractor to perform any sort of construction job, naturally you want to get the best deal possible. There are very important things to keep in mind, however, when shopping for the best company for the job. The single most vital of these is to be certain your contractor is licensed, bonded and certified. Unlicensed contractors are going to vie for your business by quoting you far lower prices than licensed ones, but you’ll pay the price in quality of work and risk. Here’s a look at why you want to hire a licensed contractor over an unlicensed contractor. Read more
Contracts are the core, the heart and soul, of the construction industry. As a contractor, you know that these written agreements not only define the scope of services you will provide, but they allow you vital protections against lawsuits and liability issues should anything go wrong during the course of work. Construction law is difficult and complex and, it seems, ever changing. Here’s an overview of what you need to know about the different types of construction contracts.
Fixed Price and Lump Sum
There are three types of construction contracts that are most commonly used, and of these the most common is the lump sum or fixed price form of contract. With this type of contract, the property owner seeks bids from several contractors to get the best deal they can. Since with this system the entire scope of a project is presented up front, this contract is able to clearly outline the scheduling, deadlines, costs, budget and other crucial aspects of the project.
Cost plus contracts are more open and freeform. They are best applied when the costs and timeframe for the project are somewhat unclear. They allow the payment to be negotiated rather than defining it as a fixed cost. It essentially agrees that the contractor will be paid for the costs of the job plus labor fees, which can be set or a percentage and may include a bonus for quick completion of the job.
Time and Material
When the overall scope and details of the project are largely or completely unknown, a time and material contract can be implemented. Whatever the variables are, if the project is nebulous, this kind of contract is an option, though it is generally the least favorable of the three types. It agrees on an hourly rate for the contractor and materials paid for by the property owner. Separate fees are negotiated for contractor profit and overhead issues.
If your company is a union shop, there are other considerations and guidelines you will need to follow to ensure that the job contract is in line with union requirements. There are expectations that the union will have to see fulfilled before work can commence, including conditions of employment, discrimination issues, grievance procedures and the like.
These types of construction contracts will also address the kinds of workers you will be using. Most common are subcontractors who use their own equipment and are licensed on their own. They have to be specifically accounted for within your job contract, or you could end up with liability and lawsuit issues if things go wrong.
Direct hire employees, on the other hand, work for you and your company. These employees carry fewer but different liability issues. You will have to account for payment practices, the type of work performed and working conditions when dealing with direct hires. Don’t forget to keep your company and your employees protected with workers compensation insurance.
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:
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.
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.