ThinkstockPhotos 598700166By Robert Slocomb 

“There is no best solution to a safety problem. There are a variety of directions to go. Each of these directions may produce some degree of risk reduction.”  Air Force Safety Handbook

Every year, companies large and small spend fortunes on safety, and the heavy civil company I work for is no exception. It’s impossible to say which safety methods work best, because all systems have varying degrees of reducing risk. 

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By Sara Parker

It's the beginning of a new year, and that means new trends are popping up left and right. While your construction crew may not need to follow the Pantone color of the year, they do need to understand what's happening currently and what's on the horizon in the home industry. The following are just a few reasons why your crew needs to stay up to date:

Blog 54 SafetyBy Brian Binke

Some construction employers prioritize productivity over safety. Although meeting deadlines is important in the construction industry, it should never come at the cost of a human life. Collapsing building materials, overhead power lines and heavy machinery are just a few of the potential dangers in commercial construction jobs that can all be avoided with the proper safety protocols.

Continued Safety Concerns
A majority of Americans who were surveyed and working in construction feel that company productivity outranks their safety concerns. The National Safety Council survey also included some other interesting statistics regarding construction safety. EHS today first reported on a few of the important statistics from this survey:

  • 32 percent feel management ignores an employee’s safety performance when determining promotions.
  • 62 percent say everyone is involved in solving job safety issues.
  • 63 percent of employees feel they work in areas or at stations that are ergonomically correct.
  • 48 percent of employees believe safety meetings are held less often than they should be.
  • 47 percent believe performance standards are higher for job tasks than for safety. This percentage is higher among construction industry workers, where 67 percent feel this way. 
  • 33 percent of employees working in transportation and warehousing do not agree that management has a written policy that expresses their attitude about employee safety. 

Tools to Improve Construction Safety
Fortunately, there’s a growing number of new tools and trends being introduced in an effort to improve construction safety. The use of technology, like building information modeling (BIM), is already having a positive impact on project safety. Other technologies being used to help improve industry safety include mobile tools, drones and wearable devices.

  • More than two-thirds of contractors who use BIM (69 percent) state that it has a positive impact on project safety, a 27-point increase over those who reported that in 2012.
  • More than half of those reporting that positive impact attribute it to using BIM to identify potential site hazards before construction begins, to conduct clash detection, to support prefabrication and to create 3D images.
  • Smartphone use is nearly ubiquitous onsite, and tablet use is widespread and growing. This allows for use of mobile tools like cameras to be used by 85 percent of all contractors onsite. The documentation of site condition and work progress is fundamental to many safety efforts.
  • Nearly half of contractors (42 percent) also employ safety inspection checklist apps, but use of mobile tools for safety training (35 percent) and to access safety and health websites (28 percent) is less common.
  • Almost one quarter of contractors (21 percent) use drones to promote safety onsite for functions such as reality capture that allow for digital analysis of existing conditions, and almost three quarters of them (70 percent) believe that these have a positive impact on safety.
  • While wearable devices like badges with coded electronic information and smart helmets are only being used by 13 percent of contractors currently, 82 percent of those who use them report a positive impact on safety. This suggests that as these technologies become more widely known and more affordable, their potential for improving job site safety increases.

Brian Binke is the founder & CEO of The Birmingham Group (TBG). TBG is a globally recognized Executive Search and Consulting firm, specializing in the construction arena. Over the past 22 years, Brian has established himself as one of the construction industries most respected leaders. He has won numerous awards for his industry innovation and has been recognized as the No. 1 worldwide revenue producing manager for the largest recruitment network of more than 800 independent firms. Brian founded SC Bingham Farms in 1995. In January 1997, SC Bingham Farms acquired Management Recruiters Birmingham, established by Fred Bawulski in 1967. Fred was an early pioneer of the executive search industry, which was almost unheard of in the 60s. Today The Birmingham Group remains one of the nation’s most tenured search firms. You can reach Brian directly at bbinke@thebirmgroup.com

ThinkstockPhotos 537269404 1By Jonathan Hegranes

It’s no surprise that drones are becoming a common sight in the world of construction. They are a versatile tool that can be used by managers to map, plan and keep track of progress, while also providing supplementary material for presentations and clients. But apart from the speed, convenience and quality of aerial imagery, introducing drones to a construction site comes with a number of safety benefits.

Blog 53 IncentivesBy Brian Binke

Once you’ve landed the best candidates for your construction jobs, the focus of your organization should shift to employee retention strategies. As a matter of course, retention should be an ongoing focus for your firm. Losing skilled workers, especially during a labor crisis, will negatively impact your company’s bottom line through lost time, slower project completion, and repeated training. A great way to help with retention is to implement performance-based incentives.

image1By Roy Rasmussen

Communications problems can cripple your business. When communications break down between your company’s team members or between your staff and customers, the result can be stalled workflow, misunderstandings and even lost workers and clients.

One root of companies’ communications crisis is reliance on outdated equipment. Here’s a look at current communications tools that can help you improve your construction company’s internal and external communications and boost your efficiency and your profits.

Unified Communications Platforms

Unified communications (UC) tools have been around for decades, but today’s best-in-class unified platform solutions offer an unprecedented level of sophistication and efficiency. Once centered around landline systems that integrated phone and fax features, today’s UC tools use a virtual platform that incorporates cutting-edge communications methods including VoIP, HD voice that eliminates background noise, video chat and conferencing and instant messaging.

Today’s leading unified communications platforms also incorporate cloud contact center features that can improve your external customer communication as well as your internal communication. A cloud contact center provides a single platform your service team can use to consolidate customer communications from all channels, providing your customers with a seamless omnichannel experience when tickets migrate from one channel to another. UC tools also integrate with customer relationship management apps, so your contact center team always has instant access to all the information they need to assist your customers and to take advantage of upsell opportunities.

Chatbots

Chatbots can automate the process of responding to online customer service inquiries from your website or apps such as Facebook Messenger. Chatbots can also recognize inquiries that need human assistance and direct them toward your available representatives in the order tickets are received.

Using chatbots allows you to be present to your customers 24/7 so that you don’t miss any potential business. At the same time, chatbots save time for your customers and your staff, boosting your customer satisfaction rate and saving you money on labor.

3-D VR and AR Presentation tools

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology provides construction companies with a powerful tool for presenting 3-D models of sites to clients and team members. You can use 3-D VR and AR models to present clients and contractors with realistic previews of proposed blueprints in order to get input and make modifications. Wearing VR headsets allows clients to experience an immersive view of what the proposed design would actually look and feel like, allowing for more persuasive sales presentations and better communication about desired specifications.

You can also collect 3-D images of projects as they develop by using technology such as mobile cameras and drones, helping you present clients with updates on project progress. This can also serve as a powerful tool for assembling time-lapse videos of project progress in order to create dramatic marketing presentations.

Unified communications platforms, chatbots and virtual augmented reality are some of today’s most useful communications tools for construction companies. Deploying these tools can streamline your internal efficiency, improve your customer communications and make your company more efficient and more profitable.

Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of "Publishing for Publicity," is a freelance writer who helps select clients write quality content to reach business and technology audiences. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies and bestselling authors. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing and career planning.

shutterstock 285047216By Alison Stanton

As a business owner, it goes without saying that you are committed to staying compliant with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). But as you have found out firsthand, wanting to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses and keep your workplace safe as per the OSHA standards requires constant vigilance as well as a keen knowledge of the rules and regulations.

In order to help ensure that your company is compliant with OSHA requirements, check out the following tips:

ThinkstockPhotos 584210406By Construction Today staff editor

Travelers’ latest Risk Index identified three major risks in the construction industry: 1) the ability to attract and hire qualified workers, 2) employee safety and 3) the changing workforce. Other emerging risks include the potential for a cyber attack and distracted driving.

shutterstock 578108446By Roy Rasmussen

A would-be thief got more than he bargained for when he tried to steal a $1,200 saw from a construction site in University Park, Texas. When the suspect tried to get in his car and flee, one construction worker jumped on the hood to prevent him from seeing the road, while others pursued in a pickup truck. The truck then began bumping the car to force it off the road, knocking the back off of the vehicle. Instead of getting away with the saw, the thief barely escaped a beating, and was eventually caught and arrested.

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