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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.

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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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Prevent Risk and Liability with Masonry Contractors Insurance

Preventing Risk and Liability for Contractors

The construction business is a dangerous one. There are risks for illness and injury at every turn. Any contractor needs to take precautions to mitigate these risks and save themselves great cost in liability, manpower and efficiency. Failure to include the right policies and procedures can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and damages. Here’s a look at how contractors must be aware of these issues and how proper masonry contractors insurance can protect you, your business and your workers from disaster.

Safety Standards

Maintaining proper safety standards is the first thing a contractor can do to defend against the costs of accidents and injury. Some contractors make the mistake of believing that guidelines put in place by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are onerous and unnecessary. Nothing could be further from the truth.

OSHA standards are sometimes stringent, but they are important. These regulations are in place to protect workers from harm. Not only are they vital for maintaining safe work conditions, but they are the law. Contracting businesses who fail to obey them can be subject to fines and other censures from the organization.

Equipment Hazards

Heavy equipment such as mixers are a fact of life on masonry job sites. It is vital to ensure that all employees and workers are properly trained and educated in the policies and procedures involving the use of heavy equipment. Safety zones should be established to keep unauthorized persons from the area of the equipment, and only those completely trained and certified should use the equipment.

In all cases, anyone on a work site where heavy equipment and machinery is in use should wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). This varies by equipment but could include hard hats, safety suits, gloves, boots or other pieces of protective clothing.

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Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials aren’t common on masonry jobs, but situations can arise where asbestos, lead and other substances may be encountered. Follow OSHA guidelines in dealing with these substances to the letter. This includes the use of HEPA filters, respirators and other PPE indicated based on the substance that could be encountered. All workers should be properly trained and educated in safety policies and procedures. Regular updates in this training should be scheduled to make sure everyone is always up to date.

Insurance Coverage

No matter how careful you are, accidents happen. The best way to manage liability issues is to carry a proper and complete masonry contractors insurance policy. This can include workers compensation, vehicle insurance, accident and liability insurance, and a variety of other coverage options that may vary from business to business and even job to job. The right insurance can make the difference between helping an injured worker get back on their feet, and going out of business.



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What Kind of Liability Insurance Do Painters Need?

Liability Insurance for Painters

Being a painter may seem like a relatively risk-less job compared to other contractors, but the truth is that painters need just as much protection from liability as any other professional trade. The equipment painting contractors bring in can potentially cause damage to their clients’ home or building while presenting an injury risk to any outside parties who wander on the job site.

Just the nature of needing to enter someone else’s property to perform work puts painters at a liability risk. Cover your painting business from uncertainty and unanticipated disasters by purchasing liability insurance for painting contractors. No matter if you are a specialty painting business, remodelers, a general contractor, a builder or any other type of tradesmen, have your business protected from the problems that can arise during painting.

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General Liability Insurance

The biggest element painters will want to have covered is their general third-party liability. Damage to property is a very real risk any time a painting contractor enters a property with large pieces of equipment. Ladders and scaffolds could easily tumble, ripping up drywall and damaging interior components of walls. Equipment like paint sprayers can sometimes cause electrical shorts in unfinished job sites where electrical systems do not yet have all the needed safety systems in place.

Paint spills are especially a concern. Clients’ carpets and furniture can become soiled in the event of a spill, and when paint seeps under drop cloths the damage only becomes worse. Spare your painting company the cost of replacing an expensive carpet covered in paint boot prints by having the adequate coverage any time you enter a job site.

Injury risks from outside parties are very real, too. A client popping in to see how the color looks on the walls can trip over an extension cord and end up with a broken collar bone. General liability insurance can cover their medical costs in this situation, sparing you from having to pay for the accident out of pocket. Never enter a job site without such protection, or you could be placing your company in a financial hole as a result of one innocent blunder.

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Commercial Auto Insurance for Painters

Painters have a ton of equipment to lug around, and they often manage it by purchasing vans, trucks or large cars capable of hauling their materials, tools and equipment. Driving these company vehicles on a daily basis means risking a collision. No matter how careful your drivers are, others on the road may cause them to get in an accident where they are somehow viewed as at-fault.

Keep your drivers and your vehicles covered with commercial auto insurance for painting contractors. Your liability costs for damage to other vehicles or injuries to vehicle occupants can be handled through an insurer. Many states require commercial vehicle operators to carry higher liability limits than the minimum, so ensure that your coverage is adequate to protect you from legal costs as well as liability costs.

Workers Compensation Insurance

Liability includes covering your own workers from injuries they sustain on the job. As an employer, you no doubt care about the health, safety and well-being of the laborers that help you earn money. Protect them from the costs of injury by providing them workers compensation insurance. You will also be protecting yourself from legal liability in the process since accepting workers compensation claims in most instances waives that party’s right to legal action.

For all these reasons, liability insurance for painters, painting contractors and construction workers who paint can be an invaluable, if not mandatory product to have. Give your workers and your clients confidence by purchasing these liability insurance products from a trusted provider of contractors insurance.

 

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Certification from the Contractors State License Board

Contractors Guide to Licensing

When you set up your general contracting business, you will want to make sure that not only do you have the right liability insurance, but that you are properly certified and licensed. While the qualifications for licensing vary based on the contractors state license board where you live, there are certain universals that you will want to follow. Here is an overview of general contractor licensing and how it works from state to state.

Know Your Business

General contracting isn’t something that a person should simply jump into. It’s important to do your time in the trenches, learning the ins and outs of the business. A high school diploma or General Education Degree (GED) are vital in any case. You should then seek apprenticeships and training in your field. When you’ve spent several years in the business and have a strong handle on how general contracting works, you may be ready to approach licensing.

License Qualifications

The basic qualifications to seek a licensure for a contracting business requires that the applicant be an adult of at least 18 years of age, can read and write in English and be of good and upstanding moral character. Most states will conduct a background investigation which costs a few hundred dollars and requires the following:

  • Social Security Card
  • Photo ID
  • Proof of Residence
  • Several months’ bank statements
  • Licensure application paperwork

Some states may require additional information based on whether your business is a sole proprietor, corporation or LLC. Do your homework and investigate your home state’s requirements before getting started.

Assessment and Testing

Again, each state and type of contracting business has its own requirements, but many will require that you take an assessment exam to be sure that you know the laws surrounding the industry in your area, construction and building codes, safety procedures, OSHA requirements and the like.

As with anything important, make sure you take the time to do your homework. Look carefully into the requirements of your contractors state license board and into the specifics of what you’ll need to know to pass the assessment. Then, study hard to be sure you’re up on all the latest knowledge and information.

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License Application and Fees

When you have passed your background check and assessment exams, the time comes to get your business up and running! You will need to get proper and adequate contractors insurance to cover your activities and protect you from liability and damages. This includes both general liability insurance and workers compensation insurance. You will then need to fill out an application for your licensure and pay the licensing fees to your contractors state license board. When everything is paid up and the papers in order, you will then be issued a license that makes it legal for you to work as a general contractor in your state. Congratulations on being a licensed contractor!

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Employee vs. Independent Contractor Checklist

Employee vs. Independent Contractor Checklist

With the new healthcare laws into effect combined with the cost of workers compensation, providing benefits to employees has become more expensive than ever before. Many employers are looking to downsize staff and bring in independent contractors to fill the gap. It is important, however, to be sure you are not misclassifying employees as contractors. Doing so could present a high degree of liability for you that could bring severe damage to your business. It’s vital to understand what constitutes a 1099 worker and construct an employee vs. independent contractor checklist.

A Growing Epidemic

Recent figures estimate that over a third of businesses have misclassified employees as 1099, or independent contract workers. In the construction industry, low wages and a lack of regulation have become epidemic, and misclassification has resulted in estimated figures nearing $100 million in unpaid workers comp insurance premiums. This doesn’t account for the loss of FMLA, unemployment, overtime and safe workplace protections.

Tax Issues

Employee misclassification also results in workers having to pay more taxes than they should, because they are paying the employer’s portion of social security tax, which for contractors is called the “self-employment tax.” While this may seem advantageous to the company looking to save money on their books, it is becoming a real problem in federal tax loss. It is also, so far as the IRS is concerned, fraud.

Determining the Difference

An independent contractor is someone who is self-employed. If the worker controls or directs the nature and means of the work being done (what to do and how to do it), they are an independent contractor. If the employer controls and dictates the services performed and how they are done, the worker is an employee. Finally, if an employer-employee relationship is in place, the worker cannot be an independent contractor. There are three basic factors that should form the basis of your employee vs. independent contractor checklist. These factors are:

  • Do you control how the worker performs his duties and exactly what those duties are? This forms the Behavioral aspect of the issue.
  • Are your employees’ business aspects controlled by you? That is, do you determine how the worker is paid, whether they get reimbursed for expenses and who pays for and supplies tools, equipment and the like? This is the Financial consideration.
  • Do you have written contracts for employee benefits? Is the relationship ongoing or for a set period of time? Does your worker perform a key role in your business? This is the Relationship aspect of employment.

Consequences

Misclassification of an employee is considered fraud by the IRS. At very least you will be responsible for paying back employment taxes for the worker in question and may be held liable for deserved benefits that you have yet to provide. In addition, you run the risk of being reported. Any worker who thinks they have been misclassified may complete Form 8919 to report your share of these taxes.

For more information on liability insurance and the employee vs. independent contractor checklist, see our informational page, and get in touch with us for a review and quote today!



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