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Three Green Trends in Construction

Published on July 27, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By James White

Much of the construction industry is turning green with an eye to the future and the ever-increasing demands of eco-conscious customers.

It’s estimated between 40 to 48 percent of new commercial buildings will be green beginning in 2015, according to the Green Building Council. Sixty-two percent of construction companies building single-family homes report using green building methods in at least 15 percent of the homes built since 2013. That number is expected to rise to more than 80 percent  by 2018, presenting a huge economic opportunity for construction industry professionals large and small.

What’s Red, Hot and Green This Year in Construction

  • Many construction companies are switching to paperless processing. Everything from customer files to zoning requirements, from project invoices to project updates can all be done without killing a single tree. Construction contractors believe going paperless could add up to $5,000 a year in savings as well as streamlining the entire business. Geo-fencing is replacing timecards. Most construction contractors already rely on time-tracking software to help them organize bill paying and employee payroll, but new geo-fencing applications have taken job site tracking a step further.
  • Zero-energy buildings save energy and actually prevent greenhouse gases. A zero-energy structure employs solar, wind and biofuel solutions to electricity and heating/cooling needs. Slow to catch on because of their upfront expenses, zero-energy buildings have long-term energy-saving benefits that make them a sound investment. Solar power, the best known of the renewable energy resources, is the most employed of the green building materials currently in use.
  • New peer-to-peer (P2P) business solution known as resource sharing.Startups such as EquipmentShare.com in the Midwest and Yard Club Inc., based out of San Francisco, match contractors to equipment owners and operators, which is beneficial to both parties. This not only helps small construction businesses by providing access to equipment they may need without having to purchase it, but big heavy-equipment dealers can benefit from sharing as well. By renting out their heavy construction equipment, companies can generate additional income between projects and provide work for their operators rather than lay them off in lean times. Caterpillar Inc., one of the largest heavy-equipment dealers with over 400 different heavy-equipment products for sale and rent, recently announced an investment in Yard Club proving just how valuable this P2P business will be in the future.

Facing Forward

For construction companies to grow and thrive throughout the coming years, it seems apparent green practices and materials will have to be employed by most serious development companies and contractors. Demand for green building materials and processes continues to grow and is expected to increase dramatically over the next several years.

The construction industry must adapt to changing markets, customer pools and industry innovations to remain viable in the 21st century. So far, it looks like they’re off to a good start.

James White is an experienced home improvement blogger and construction worker. His writing has appeared in many publications, including EHS Today, Constructonomics, and Building Blok. He is involved in promoting the ideas of sustainable building and construction safety. And, when he’s not saving the planet through his blogging, White revels in exploring the latest developments in the construction and manufacturing industries, its history, its advancements, and where we will be tomorrow.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 
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New Amendments to Chapter 558, Florida’s “Notice and Opportunity to Cure” Statute

Published on July 22, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Gary M. Stein and K. Stefan Chin

People involved in the construction industry, including owners, condominium associations, architects, engineers, general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers, should take note of House of Representatives Bill 87, signed into law by Governor Rick Scott on June 16, 2015. HB 87 amends Chapter 558, Florida Statutes, Florida’s “Notice and Opportunity to Cure” Statute, effective Oct. 1, 2015.

Chapter 558 was enacted in 2003 as a pre-lawsuit alternative dispute resolution mechanism to resolve construction defect disputes and reduce the number of construction defect lawsuits filed, while at the same time protecting the rights of property owners.  When applicable, an owner of real property must comply with the requirements of Chapter 558 prior to filing a construction defect lawsuit. HB 87 includes several key amendments to Chapter 558, Florida Statutes.

The legislative intent has been revised to clarify that Chapter 558 is intended to provide an opportunity to resolve construction defect claims through confidential settlement negotiations. This should facilitate more open dialogue between the parties involved, which may lead to resolution of more construction defect claims prior to litigation and potential reduction of time, resources and expenses spent in litigation.

The statutory definition of “Completion of a building or improvement” has been revised to include issuance of a temporary certificate of occupancy.  This provides more clarity for the parties involved by setting an objective standard for determination of when the parties’ warranty obligations commence and conclude.

The statute has been revised to include additional requirements for a Notice of Claim, including identification of the location(s) of each alleged construction defect based upon at least a visual inspection by the claimant or its agents.  Requiring more specificity in Chapter 558 Notices of Claim should provide the recipient of a Notice with more information about the construction defects being alleged, which may lead to more efficient and effective investigation and resolution of claims. It should also reduce the number of improper construction defect claims being alleged, thereby allowing the parties to focus their efforts on resolving legitimate claims.

The scope of documentation, which can be requested under Chapter 558, has been revised to include maintenance records and other documents related to the discovery, investigation, causation and extent of the alleged defects identified in the Notice of Claim and any resulting damages. Expanding the scope of documentation that may be requested should facilitate a more complete understanding of the operative facts by the parties involved, which may lead to more effective resolution of claims.

In conclusion, the construction industry should take note of the 2015 amendments to Chapter 558, Florida Statutes.  The amendments should facilitate more efficient and effective resolution of construction defect claims prior to litigation, potentially saving the parties and the courts time, resources and expenses associated with a construction defect lawsuit.

Board Certified attorney Gary Stein, Miami co-managing partner of the national construction law firm of Peckar & Abramson, P.C., is general counsel for the South Florida Association of General Contractors. He can be reached at gstein@pecklaw.com.

 

 

 

 

 

K. Stefan Chin is an associate with the firm. He can be reached at kschin@pecklaw.com

 

 

 

 

 

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.


 
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Baby Boomer Trends for Senior Living

Published on July 9, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Brian Webster

Born between 1946 and 1964, baby boomers are second only to Millennials as the largest generation. With most in their 50s and 60s, a large percentage of the generation is headed towards joining the nearly 70 percent of seniors over the age of 75 that live in some sort of senior living or assisted living community.

As more and more individuals from the baby boomer generation enter retirement and begin a transition from a single-family home to a senior living community, it’s important to understand the characteristics that define this generation.

Sense of Community:

A sense of community is important to baby boomers. When looking for a new residence, this generation will stay closer to home in order to maintain personal relationships with family and friends. If there is a senior living option within their current neighborhood, close to family and friends, baby boomers will be more likely to choose that residence over another with similar amenities and outside of their neighborhood.

Amenities:

Amenities play an important role in a baby boomer’s preferences when choosing a residence. It’s common for most developments to include a pool, fitness or wellness centers, outdoor gathering spaces, coffee bars and/or small kitchen entertaining areas. However, new senior centers are now incorporating salon rooms, game spaces and comfortable meeting spaces to interact with family and grandchildren, further reinforcing their desire to maintain a sense of community.

Personal and Financial Freedom:

Moving from a single family home to a senior living community offers baby boomers a great deal of personal and financial freedom. They are able to take advantage of the equity they have built, as well as reduced utility, home maintenance and repair costs, to explore places and opportunities that they may not have been able while they were tied to a single family home. Some places require an initiation fee or for them to “buy-in.” These are meant to offset the additional services and amenities that are on site but are usually very costly. Whether or not they’re required to “buy-into” a senior living community can play a big role in where seniors decide to reside. Depending on the amount of the fee, residents can decide if their monetary investment is worth the services and amenities they’ll receive from being a part of the senior living center.

 

Brian Webster serves as Project Manager at KWA Construction. He is LEED AP certified with an extensive knowledge of green building.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 
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Selecting the Right Industrial Coating

Published on June 26, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Tatsuya Nakagawa

If you don’t have a background in coatings and corrosion industry, the coating selection process can be daunting. Product data sheets are filled with testing standards that you have never heard of and lab results that may have no application to your situation. A century ago there were only a handful of choices, but today there are thousands of coatings to consider. Luckily you can navigate through the countless choices by focusing on these four key areas.

Condition and Type of Substrate
Not all coatings will function well on concrete, steel and wood. It’s important to ask, is the substrate in good enough condition to accept a coating as is or does the surface need to be repaired or prepared in a certain way? Always remember, coatings are only as good as the quality of the surface it’s adhering to.

Performance Requirements
Does the coating need to withstand high vehicular or foot traffic? Does it need to have high chemical resistance? Will the coating be exposed to high temperatures or UV? If facility downtime is an issue, then a fast curing coating needs to be used. Does it need to have flexibility so it can expand and contract with the substrate or resist impact? What is the temperature going to be during the coating project? For instance, epoxies generally need 50F (10C) to effectively cure, so if the temperatures are lower than that, external heating needs to be utilized or a cold weather coating would need to be considered. Lab results are good, but it’s always good to ask a supplier if they have an example of a similar application in the field.

Safety & Environmental Considerations
According to research firm MarketsAndMarkets, the current worth of the global green coatings market (2012) is $60.6 billion and is estimated to reach $85.7 billion by 2018. VOC-free, BPA-free options are becoming more available in many coating categories, but be sure that these coatings are cost competitive and meet all your performance requirements. Using a sustainable coating will make your jobsite safer and lessen the impact of your project on the environment.

Costs
Costs can sometimes be tricky to access without knowing some additional details beyond the product datasheet. First of all, you need to discuss with the supplier what the specification of the project would be (ie. thickness requirements, coverage). Another area that cost comes into play is surface prep. The cost of surface prep needs to be examined for the coatings system you select. Whether the coating system requires a higher quality surface finish or an additional layer of primer, the costs can add up in a hurry. Asking about the service life and future repairability of the coating is also a good practice.

It’s an exciting time in the coating industry with many innovative solutions on the market. Stick with these fundamental tips and it will increase your chances in making a good selection.

Tatsuya Nakagawa is the VP of marketing and co-founder of Castagra Products, an industrial coatings manufacturing company. Castagra is used by the world’s top companies to protect their assets. Contact info@castagra.com.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 
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Building on Strengths to Enter New Sectors

Published on June 22, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By H. Kent Goetjen

What did this year’s CEO Survey reveal about how engineering and construction (E&C) CEOs view the state of their industry in the face of unprecedented digital transformation?

  • They’re concerned about the economy, project funding sources, and other risks, but are still fairly confident of revenue growth.
  • They’re looking to new sectors, actively investing in digital technologies and forming new alliances with companies.
  • Many are collaborating with competitors.

Cautious confidence

E&C CEOs are more pessimistic about the economic outlook than peers in other industries: 28 percent believe global economy will improve this year (versus 50 percent last year). Despite these reservations, 67 percent of them think there are more opportunities for growth than three years ago. They’re just as confident as last year that they can generate higher revenues in the short– (81 percent) and mid-term (92 percent). They’re looking to the US and China – albeit at lower levels than other CEOs – to produce much of this growth. But Saudi Arabia and Africa are on their radar too.

Gearing up for disruptive megatrends

Overregulation and higher taxes top E&C CEO concerns, but 58 percent are also worried about bribery and corruption. They’re also preparing themselves for major disruptions over the next five years, as megatrends converge. The likelihood of more competition makes them nervous. But they’re generally more relaxed about the disruptive potential of new regulations, distribution channels and production technologies, and changes in customers’ behavior, than peers in other industries.

Active in new and adjacent industries

More than half of E&C CEOs think more companies from adjacent industries will enter the sector in the next five years, although 31 percent don’t expect significant rivals to emerge. In fact, 41 percent say they’ve already entered another sector, more than the average of 33 percent. These pioneers are targeting the energy, utilities and mining, professional and business services, and industrial manufacturing sectors.

Digital delivers efficiency and innovation

Most E&C CEOs are also investing in digital technologies to create value in new ways. Their top priorities are cybersecurity, mobile technologies for engaging with customers, and data mining and analysis. They’re also more interested in the potential of 3-D printing than other CEOs, which suggests increasing off-site manufacturing could become the norm.

How have these investments paid off? E&C CEOs say digital technologies have been valuable in improving operational efficiency and enhancing data analysis, external and internal collaboration. They’re also positively impacting innovation capacity, sourcing and supply chain management. But maximizing returns is difficult. It requires clear vision of how digital technologies can deliver competitive advantage, a robust plan that includes concrete measures of success, and a CEO who’s willing to champion digital.

Dynamic alliances, different talent

The percentage of E&C CEOs who plan to form a new alliance leapt to 61 percent from 49 percent in 2014. They’re far more likely to be joining forces with competitors than CEOs in other sectors are (45 percent versus 27 percent).

Half of E&C CEOs also intend to hire more. Finding candidates with the right skills is a key concern, but they’ve taken steps to address talent shortfalls: 72 percent have widened searches to different countries, industries or demographic segments; 61 percent have implemented a strategy for promoting talent diversity.

Kent Goetjen is PwC’s U.S. Engineering & Construction industry sector leader. He has more than 30 years of experience providing service to clients in the engineering and construction industry.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

 
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Four Ways Connected Building Technology Will Transform Commercial Real Estate

Published on June 18, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Mani Gopalaratnam

The Internet of Things is quickly making the future a reality by revolutionizing the way people and things – including buildings – operate. Spending on connected buildings is expected to more than triple from 2013 to 2018 according to IDC Energy Insights, representing a 28 percent compound annual growth rate.

Connected building technology allows the thousands of devices in buildings, like heating and security systems, to be monitored and controlled remotely. Further, property managers can analyze data produced by these devices to optimize operations. For example, instead of maintaining a conference room’s temperature at 68 degrees, a connected building would be able to detect an increased occupancy in the room during a meeting and adjust the temperature accordingly.

For commercial real estate developers and investors under increased pressure to more tightly manage costs, this is exciting news as the benefits of connected buildings can be seen across four core areas of operations: IT, safety and security, energy management and property management.

IT Operations

Connected building technology converges IT and OT infrastructure, which allows for greater visibility into a building’s infrastructure and avoids siloing data across different systems. Connected building technology also uses preventative and predictive analysis to forecast actionable events that will impact a building’s efficiency.

Safety and Security

With connected building technology, data from video surveillance can be analyzed in real-time to determine potential threats, such as intrusion or vandalism. Immediate action can then be taken to prevent a potential security breach.

Energy Management

Programmable algorithms ensure building utility systems run as efficiently as possible. Real-time monitoring of a building’s energy consumption and performance creates a complete picture of power usage, providing a proactive solution for managing energy use.

Property Management

Connected building technology automates maintenance services, meaning building faults can be diagnosed remotely and resolutions tracked in real-time. Additionally, property managers gain insight into which sites are performing more efficiently.

Over the next few years, connected building technology will become increasingly common in newly constructed offices and commercial spaces. It is projected that spending on this technology will rise to more than $21 billion in 2018. Advancements in software applications, network management and fulfills analytics will continue to improve connected building energy efficiency.

Tools like the Honeywell Command Wall, an 80-inch screen that displays the physical systems within a building along with the data produced in real-time, allow users to quickly view, analyze and make insight-driven decisions. More examples of this technology will likely follow as demand for seamless user-interfaces and flow of information increases.

Mani Gopalaratnam is Head of Innovation at Xchanging, a multi-national, publicly-listed business and technology services provider.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 

 
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In Construction Leadership, Blind Spots Spell Trouble

Published on June 8, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By David Nour

When a company’s top leadership has blinders on, trouble will follow. The first clue that this condition exists is doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results.

To assume “We’re leaders in our field for a reason. If we keep doing what we’ve always done, our market will continue to reward us” is fundamentally flawed. Construction company leaders need to understand that you are not just competing against each other, but competing for a share of the spending power of your clients. Customers always have a choice, and that includes substitutes you may never have imagined could impact your bottom line. Remaining relevant to choice-conscious buyers is your fundamental purpose, not protecting the status quo.

Your next generation of buyers looks nothing like the last.

If you haven’t noticed the changing market preferences and tastes of Millennials, you are wearing blinders. These are tomorrow’s customers. With the construction industry picking up steam, it is easy to become complacent. Total  construction starts are predicted to rise to nine percent in 2015. (Source: Electrical Contractor magazine.)  After years of two percent growth, that sounds great. But if leaders began innovating around the pains and gains of their next generation of customers, they could see double-digit growth. Unfortunately, I see little sign the construction industry recognizes the demographic shift underway.

If you want to avoid blind spots, don’t put the blind in charge.

A large problem facing the construction industry is a stale mindset. Too often, leadership succession means one old-guard face is replaced with another just as “male, pale and stale.” Few recall what a fresh perspective is. Shuffling the organization chart keeps the blind in control. Not good.

Imagine what fresh perspective could bring.

Innovation isn’t necessarily about your products and services. It can also be about how your business model challenges the status quo. For example, take a look at your strategic relationship priorities. Are you centered on the interests of your supply chain partners, with little thought to your customer experience? If you flipped that priority, it would fundamentally differentiate you from competitors.

You cannot continue to hold your company to the standard of your peers. Until you raise your eyes from the rut you are in, and look outside your industry for inspiration, you have no chance of discovering an innovation that can fuel new growth. Your blind spots will persist. And blind spots spell trouble.

Takeaways

  1. If you find your company repeating the same behaviors, but expecting different results, you have blind spots.
  2. Millennials’ market preferences and tastes will radically challenge your old assumptions. Start sensing market trends.
  3. Don’t measure yourself against peers. Look outside your industry for fresh perspective.

David Nour is an enterprise growth strategist and the thought leader on Relationship Economics® —the quantifiable value of business relationships. He is the author of several books including the best selling “Relationship Economics— Revised” (Wiley), “ConnectAbility” (McGraw-Hill), “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Raising Capital” (Praeger) and “Return on Impact—Leadership Strategies for the age of Connected Relationships” (ASAE). Learn more at www.NourGroup.com. David may be reached at dnour@nourgroup.com.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.


 
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Four Easy Steps to Acquire Your Contractor License Bond

Published on June 4, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Eric Halsey

Answering questions like “What is a contractor license bond?” and “How can I acquire one?” are easier than you think. With this quick guide, we’ll walk you through the basic steps of getting your bond and provide links to resources detailing your state’s individual requirements so you can get started today.

First Things, First: Who Needs to Get Licensed and Bonded?
The construction contracting industry includes basically any business or individual who constructs or alters, or offers to construct or alter, any building, highway, road, parking facility, railroad, excavation or other structure in a particular state. Any work being done directly for the federal government is generally excluded from state requirements and subject to unique federal regulations.

Anyone wishing to act as a construction contractor will need to get all their relevant licenses. These licenses require that you obtain surety bonds to ensure you follow all the relevant rules and regulations which come along with your license.

Importantly, there are some exceptions to licensing requirements. The specific California exceptions are listed here, but you should check your state’s laws on the subject. Once you’ve determined your need for a particular license, what’s the first step?

Step 1: Understand All the Licenses You’ll Need

This is important — in order to operate, you may need to obtain a license and/or a surety bond in the relevant state, municipality, and locality in which you’re operating. There’s obviously a tremendous amount of variation here, so some research is definitely required.

The following contractor’s license bond guide has lots of helpful information on the state requirements to get you started. You can also talk directly with your bond provider to see if they have further resources on municipal and local requirements.

Step 2: Find the Right Bonding Agency

Once you’re certain you meet all the requirements, you need to find the best bonding agency for your needs. First, you’re going to want to find a provider with ample experience in providing bonds to your specific type of work. That will ensure they’ll have the expertise to help you understand all those licensing requirements we just mentioned.

Beyond that, it’s important to find an agency which underwrites a large number of bonds and is a Managing General Underwriter (MGU). Underwriting many bonds means they can negotiate better prices for you. Being an MGU means they not only underwrite your bond, but also get involved in the claims process, so it’s in their interest to ensure you’re informed on how to avoid them.

Think of your bonding agency like a partner —  you’re not going to buy a bond one single time, since they need to be renewed every one or two years — so it’s best to choose wisely.

Step 3: Get Approval for Your Bond(s)

The approval process should be simple as long as you meet all the licensing requirements and have a personal credit score above 650. Most bonding agencies will allow you to do this online.

Step 4: Sign Your Bond(s) and Submit Them to the Relevant Authorities

The final step here is to sign any bonds you may be submitting before you make a copy for your own records and mail the originals off. The copy is important in case anything happens and you need to prove you’re bonded without having to go to the relevant government authority.

Keep in mind that you may have to submit other documents alongside your bond, so double check the requirements before you mail everything off. After all this is complete, the state should send you your contractor license. Depending on your state, municipality, and locality, this may take between one and three weeks.

Other Things to Consider

Bear in mind, the entire licensing process often takes several months to complete. This guide only describes the part relevant to getting bonded. Be sure to plan everything in advance, so you’re not caught unprepared for any delays.

Eric Halsey is a historian by training and disposition who’s been interested in U.S. small businesses since working at the House Committee on Small Business in 2006. Coming from a family with a history of working on industry policy, he has a particular interest in the Surety Bonding industry with a focus on Construction and loves sharing his knowledge for JW Surety Bonds.

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.

 
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Innovation Rising: 3-D Printing in the Construction Industry

Published on May 26, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By James White

When you hear the term 3-D printing, it’s difficult to imagine how it can apply to the construction industry. How could using a digital blueprint to create objects out of plastic or another material translate to the world of construction?

Believe it or not, 3-D printing is versatile and can be used in many ways. It has actually been used in the construction industry already, thanks to a Chinese company called WinSun. WinSun claims to have built 10 3-D printed houses in a single day, with a total cost for each house coming to $5,000. That’s pretty impressive, to say the least.

Building for the Future

How is this possible, you ask? 3-D construction is done using grand-scale printers, which employ the use of a special concrete and composite mixture. This mixture is actually much thicker than traditional concrete, which allows it to support itself as it sets, in addition to drying much faster. No, this is not a hoax. 3-D printed buildings can actually be fabricated using digital blueprints.

In addition, 3-D-based construction can be more efficient at times. For instance, curved concrete structures can be designed with a hollow composition. This uses less building materials and space to work inside the structure – without sacrificing strength and support. Tactics like this can be used to maintain quality of a building, while saving the builders valuable money and resources in the process. It’s a win-win situation.

WinSun took the process a step further and created an entire five-story apartment building and 11,840-square-foot villa using its touted 3-D printing construction methods. The 3-D prints were actually created at a remote facility and transferred in pieces to the project site. Then, the prefabricated pieces were assembled with steel reinforcements and the necessary insulation.

Speed and Savings

According to CNET, WinSun saves between 30 and 60 percent of construction waste thanks to 3-D printing. It can further reduce production times by 50 to 70 percent and reduce labor costs by 50 to 80 percent.

Not only will 3-D printing reduce manpower requirements, but it will also speed up the construction and assembly process. However, it does bring to mind the matter of codes and standards. It will be interesting to see how modern building codes are enforced with these 3-D printed structures.

It’s not difficult to imagine someone coming along and perfecting these ideas, though. Construction technology and innovations are hot trends for all major construction companies. Imagine a much larger 3-D printer, for instance, that is designed to build structures in prefabricated pieces autonomously. You could just upload the blueprints into a computer and wait for a few days for the husk of a building to be printed. Then, simply transfer the pieces – and materials – to the project site and assemble them as necessary (like modular building).

Can you imagine finishing a project this way? You better get used to it, you may be using methods like this real soon.

James White is an experienced home improvement blogger who works in construction. 

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.


 
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How to Create an OSHA-Approved Safety Incentive Program

Published on May 18, 2015 by in Uncategorized

By Steve Damerow

Rule 1: Accept that accidents happen and always report them

Since the Obama administration, OSHA has looked unfavorably on any incentive that promotes not reporting accidents. According to Dr. David Michaels, the assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health, “A company whose incentive program has the potential to discourage worker reporting fails to meet the Voluntary Protection Program (VVP) safety and health management system requirements.” In addition, OSHA inspectors frown upon companies that take disciplinary actions against employees for violating safety rules, or who are injured regardless of fault.

A safety incentive program based upon preventing accidents and reporting observations or near misses, according to OSHA thinking, creates better end results than “perfect” records, because it acknowledges flaws in the safety environment before they become chronic.

Rule 2: Promote a safety-conscious work culture

Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary of OSHA, also stated, “…We certainly are not opposed to all incentive programs. On the contrary, a positive incentive program that encourages or rewards workers for serving on safety and health committee (think inclusion), training…, reporting injuries, illness, near-misses or hazards can encourage worker involvement…An incentive program that encourages positive employee involvement is a valuable component…”

Rather than merely recording safety violations and incidents, OSHA places emphasis on keeping employees educated on safety. This prevents future incidents and facilitates a culture of workers who can self-monitor. Incentive program technology has the ability to educate workers through OSHA-compliant training features, and reward them for completing courses or correctly answering quizzes.

Rule 3: Contact the right safety consultant

OSHA is always updating and refining their policies. Contracting outside help to stay up-to-date is critical. A consultant can be responsible for assessing status, issues, goals and key performance indicators; creating and communicating learning and worker feedback; maintaining data; and, finally, working with and advising the reward fulfillment company.

Rule 4: Offer attractive and readily achievable rewards

Workers have to see a quid pro quo for their behavior. Just like any other incentive program, the question is: “What’s in it for them?” Consultants are needed to establish your specific organizational goals. You also need a full-time rewards fulfillment company with the critical mass and resources to supply a robust online rewards shopping mall, such as Incentive Solutions’ multi-functional program, which has a customizable platform offering more than 15 million items, event tickets and real time travel. You wouldn’t change your habits or behavior for a coffee, so why would your workers? New, online reward platforms give your workers vast reward options and an accessible, easy-to-use, familiar interface.

Rule 5: Utilize mobile apps

Smartphone and mobile app usage is prolific in today’s society. Offering a safety program through a mobile app is not merely a trendy accessory: mobile apps are designed to boost engagement. The easier it is for participants to access your program, the more likely they are to use it. Especially for on-the-go workers such as warehouse employees who may not sit in an office for much of their day, mobile apps can greatly encourage participation in your program.

In conclusion: always report safety incidents, contact an expert to create a safety-conscious work culture, don’t try to fulfill the rewards yourself or through your promo product distributor, and take advantage of today’s user-friendly technology.

Steve Damerow (pictured to the left) is CEO of Incentive Solutions. He is a recognized expert and published author, and hosts the national radio show “Business Matters.” Incentive Solutions currently manages more than 100 incentive loyalty programs within the HVAC/plumbing/construction industries. He can be reached at sdamerow@isicorporate.com and 678-514-0203.

 

 

Have an idea for a guest blog for Construction Today? Contact alan.dorich@phoenixmediacorp.com or jim.harris@phoenixmediacorp.com.


 
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