Tag Archive for 'contractors'

Be Safe — On-the-Job Safety is More Important Than Ever

By Andrew Wilson

As construction workers, we have essential jobs that help keep businesses running and homes safe enough to live in for people. As we get up and ready for work every day, we’re taking risks, and due to that we should be very careful and take as many safety precautions as we can. With that in mind, here are a few tips that construction workers should follow in order to stay safe when doing their job. 

Follow Social Distancing Rules as Much as You Can

Social distancing is one of the key ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While it’s understandable that some construction workers may have an easier time doing this than others, it’s important to be doing as much as we can. One way that employers can help with this in industries where social distancing is difficult like drywall or painting is simply reducing the number of employees at each job. As a home improvement contractor, who runs ContractorAdvisorly.com, what I’ve been doing is reducing the number of employees at job sites by at least 25% even if that means the job takes longer than usual. 

Job site safety is critical. Always be aware of others in your immediate vicinity.

Research COVID-19 Symptoms 

It’s important to stay informed of the symptoms that COVID-19 causes. This can help you decide when you’re showing symptoms and need to stay home, or when you notice that somebody else close to you is showing symptoms. Staying up to date with the latest news and best practices can help you figure out if you’re being as safe as you can at your job. The CDC has a great resource here to stay up to date and learn more about the virus. 

Wear Safety Equipment 

Due to the dangerous environments that some of us work in, safety equipment is something that some of us already use. However, this sometimes leads us to forget just how important it really is and take it for granted sometimes. Remember that apart from wearing gloves and masks to keep us safe during the pandemic, we shouldn’t forget the equipment like safety glasses and vests that keeps us safe while doing our jobs. Which then leads us to our next point. 

Some situations are more hazardous than others. Take every precaution possible to be safe.

Remember the Basics

Sometimes when trying to follow new rules, it’s easy to forget the old rules that have always been there. You should remember to continue doing the same thing you should have been doing before this whole thing even got started. This means avoiding touching your eyes or mouth when you haven’t washed your hands, especially those of us who work in environments with a lot of dust around. Always covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze. Washing your hands with soap often.  

Avoid Sharing Tools 

Every worker should have their own set of tools that only they use. While this isn’t always possible, then you should at least be wiping down the tools with alcohol wipes after each use. COVID-19 is easily transmittable, hence you should be careful with who you are sharing the tools with and be on the lookout for symptoms to keep you and your coworkers safe.  

One other thing that should be noted is that workers with medical conditions should be taking even more precautions and be making serious considerations about their current work status. As the CDC has explained, people with previous medical conditions are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. While this pandemic is going on, we must be on full alert and continue taking safety precautions in order to keep ourselves and our families safe. I hope these tips help you stay safe while doing your job. 

Andrew Wilson has been working as a home improvement contractor in the Chicago area for over 5+ years. He has experience doing kitchen, bathroom, and home remodeling and all types of home repairs. 

You can reach out to him or learn more about him on his blog ContractorAdvisorly.com

This material appeared in the June 2020 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder

ALLU ANNOUNCES TRAINING PARTNERSHIP WITH IUOE

IUOE

ALLU and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) — a trade union that represents heavy equipment operators, mechanics, surveyors and stationary engineers in the United States and Canada — announce a new cooperation and partnership in pipeline training. Through this partnership, IUOE has begun using an ALLU Transformer screening bucket for its pipeline application training program. The first training was held in Texas, beginning on June 17, 2020. IUOE will be using the ALLU Transformer unit, donated by ALLU Group Inc., for all future pipeline training sessions.

The IUOE and the Pipe Line Contractors Association (PLCA), in joint cooperation, hold more than 170 training classes, working with more than 700 students each year, in programs that train operators from beginner through advanced levels. Sessions range from one to three weeks, and traditionally incorporate six days of 10 hours daily with classroom and field training in pipeline construction. Because the ALLU Transformer is recognized as an effective tool for pipeline padding and backfilling applications, IUOE/PLCA National Pipeline Training Director Bryan D. Abel and ALLU Group Inc. President Edgar J. Chavez began discussing its potential as a tool for the IUOE pipeline training program. The ALLU Transformer allows material to be screened onsite and then backfilled directly into a trench, thus eliminating the need for dedicated stationary screening or the purchase of fine soil.

“We had spoken previously, but we developed the partnership more fully during CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020 in Las Vegas,” says Abel. “We sat down at the show, and Edgar told us, ‘We want to help.’ We have IUOE operators who use the ALLU buckets, and we agreed this would enhance our training. So, we ironed out the details.” 

The ALLU Transformer was delivered to IUOE’s Texas training facility just prior to the June 17 session. Chavez and ALLU Group Inc. Vice President, Training and Application, Bernie Olender attended for initial setup and to observe and assist with the class, which hosted 19 students. Moving forward, the ALLU Transformer will be used with IUOE’s intermediate pipeline training classes, in field training sessions where students will operate the unit in three- to four-hour rotations.

According to Chavez, “Safety is one of ALLU’s core values. The partnership with ALLU, IUOE and PLCA solidifies this value in the pipeline industry, as better training means safer overall operation.”

The pipeline training at the IUOE facility near Houston, Texas, covers all pipeline techniques from digging trenches, to laying pipeline, to padding/backfilling, to removing old pipeline. The mock pipeline jobsite accurately simulates real pipeline jobsites and situations. With the ALLU unit, training will include padding and backfilling, as well as maintenance of the unit.

“Our Texas training facility is first-class,” notes Abel. “We fly our members in and pick them up at the airport. We have a 225-room dormitory onsite, with a fully staffed kitchen and amenities. We serve three meals a day, we have a swimming pool and a recreation area — and our training is at no cost to IUOE members.”

Abel says the addition of the ALLU Transformer to the pipeline training program is a great benefit to IUOE membership, as it is an excellent embodiment of the advances in technology within the pipeline industry. “Right down to the ability to use Bluetooth to communicate between a smart phone and the bucket – ALLU is really on top of its game with technology,” he adds.

Additionally, Abel says participants were grateful to have Chavez and Olender onsite during training. “One participant told us it was refreshing and encouraging to see executives with ALLU step up, want to help and personally see it through.”

Beginning this fall, a new ALLU AC Crusher bucket will be delivered to an IUOE sister affiliate — Local 181 in Kentucky — to assist with hill and winch training. Abel says the rocky and hilly terrain in Kentucky lends to challenges that are unique from conditions in eastern Texas. The ability to train with the ALLU AC will be an additional benefit for IUOE members.

About ALLU Group

ALLU attachments are designed to operate in demanding environments on a variety of materials. This enables our customers to transform the way they work. For over 30 years, our attachments have been known for their quality and reliability, transforming business solutions throughout the world. We now operate from 7 regional offices and an extensive dealership group, and provide truly global distribution.

# #

Think Tank

Custom Water Tank Improves Efficiency for RP Development LLC

By Josh Swank

Creative thinking and the willingness to take a new approach is often what sets innovators apart from their peers. These qualities are also the fuel that propels industry forward. Construction is one of the oldest industries, but thanks to continuous advancements in technology, techniques and materials, today’s structures have come a long way from their humble beginnings. Each innovation is the result of someone searching for a better way – faster, safer, more cost efficient. Over time, the innovation can become commonplace as it’s adopted by others, but someone had to be the first to say, “Let’s try it this way.”

RP Development was able to maximize capacity on its Caterpillar 730 Articulated Dump Truck by adding an 8,000-gallon, custom-designed Philippi-Hagenbuch water tank to its fleet, increasing productivity nearly 40 percent for this vital task.

RP Development LLC is a relatively new player in the booming construction and development market in Washington state’s Tri-Cities area. From its incorporation in 2016, the company has taken a different approach. The majority of developers in the area simply buy the land and contract out the actual development. RP Development, on the other hand, purchases and develops properties using its own in-house demolition and construction crews, making it the only full-service developer in the area. By removing the third party, RP Development is able to streamline the process, greatly increasing efficiency for itself and for customers. 

However, the process only works if RP Development is operating at maximum efficiency. Relying on in-house construction and demolition teams means the developer can work at its own pace, without the added time and expense of coordinating with third-party contractors. But that also means the company is balancing additional overhead from equipment and labor. Ensuring efficiency is the key to a successful project, and, to do that, RP Development invests in the people and machines that can deliver the necessary productivity. Management embraces innovations that allow faster, safer project completions and carefully selects partners that reflect the company’s customer-focused values. 

The Philippi-Hagenbuch tank features a flow rate of 1,500 gallons per minute, meaning it only takes RP Development six minutes to distribute the entire tank load – 14 minutes faster than the previous tanks.

One area RP Development saw the opportunity to revolutionize their current process was water haulage. The high sand content in Tri-Cities soil creates a dusty environment on any job site. Developers and contractors control dust and add moisture for proper compaction by trucking in thousands of gallons of water each day. Adding an 8,000-gallon, custom-designed water tank in 2019, from Philippi-Hagenbuch, to its fleet allowed RP Development to maximize capacity on its Caterpillar 730 Articulated Dump Truck, increasing productivity nearly 40 percent for this vital task.

Sandy Slope

Even as a young company, RP Development quickly built a reputation for high-quality development services in the Tri-Cities area. This is thanks in part to a management team with decades of industry experience and a willingness to innovate. In just a few short years, the company has delivered more than 440 lots – both residential and commercial – and expanded its services to include demolition and redevelopment projects as well as first-time development. 

“Our success is a direct result of the dedication of our team and the high quality standards we set for every project,” said Stephen Bauman, General Manager for RP Development. “We’ve never followed the idea ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.’ If there’s a better solution out there, we’re going to look into it. That’s what sets us apart and allows us to provide better results. We knew our process for hauling water wasn’t as efficient as it could be. It wasn’t broken, but we felt it could still be fixed.”

RP Development was using two Peterbilt 367 On-Highway Trucks equipped with 5,000-gallon water tanks to haul water within its jobsites. Due to high demand, the tanks were constantly in use. A 12,000-gallon water tower filled the 5,000-gallon tanks in about 90 seconds, but with half a mile or more between the fill point and the jobsite, RP Development lost productivity with each trip. On the jobsite, each tank slowly distributed its load through a dual-head spray bar equipped with six nozzles and a cannon, attached to the back of the truck. The 500-gallon-per-minute pumps took 20 minutes to dump the full load. Then the driver would return to the water tower for a refill.

On a recent project, RP Development found itself hauling up to 328,000 gallons in an 8-hour shift – a task that would have required 70 trips and 17 hours with the old process. 

“The entire process could take more than half an hour per truck,” Bauman said. “It severely limited what we were able to accomplish on the jobsite each day. We managed to make it work, with great planning and flexibility, but we knew we needed a better solution to achieve our productivity and quality goals.”

Tanking Chances

RP Development began researching larger water tanks that would fit its unique needs. They found no shortage of models available from reputable original equipment manufacturers. However, there was no way to customize the equipment to fit the developer’s application. The search continued until CONEXPO/CON-AGG when Bauman stopped by the Philippi-Hagenbuch booth. 

“From the start, PHIL was interested in providing a solution, not just a product,” Bauman said. “Where the other OEMs gave us a spec sheet with limited options, the PHIL team pulled out a notebook and started writing down what we wanted.”

Philippi-Hagenbuch’s square tank design can haul about 20 percent more water than a rounded tank with similar exterior dimension, allowing RP Development to increase capacity without increasing the overall size of the tank.

RP Development partnered with PHIL for an 8,000-gallon, custom-designed, square-sided water tank to fit the company’s 730 articulated dump truck chassis. 

“The square sides were different than anything else we were seeing on the market,” Bauman said. “But once the PHIL engineers walked us through the science behind it we realized the benefits to capacity and overall safety are remarkable.”

The PHIL team explained that a square tank can haul about 20 percent more water than a rounded tank with similar exterior dimension, allowing RP Development to increase capacity without increasing the overall size of the tank. A square design, manufactured with heavy-duty Hardox 450 steel, also offers a lower center of gravity, reduces internal water churn and due to their internal baffle doors, allows for optimal water flow while minimizing front to back surging. These features increased stability and safety during transportation, which is ideal for an application that requires a fair amount of travel between fill and dump sites. 

The new tank features a flow rate of 1,500 gallons per minute, meaning it only takes RP Development six minutes to distribute the entire tank load – 14 minutes faster than the previous tanks. The tank design also incorporates six spray heads and a water cannon capable of pumping 650 gallons of water per minute.

“Just comparing volume between one of the old tanks and the new one, we’ve got 60 percent more capacity with the PHIL tank,” Bauman said, “But that’s just the beginning. We can carry more and unload it faster. Plus, with the cannon we can reach areas we couldn’t get to before. It’s revolutionized what we can do in a day.”

Crystal-Clear Results

A recent subdivision project allowed RP Development to fully test out the efficiency of the new water tank. The side-by-side Riverhawk and Sorano subdivisions feature a combined 309 residential lots. Between the two, RP Development needed to move an estimated 200,000 yards of dirt. During development, the PHIL water tank delivered an average of 41 full loads of water daily.

Specialized design features of the Philippi-Hagenbuch tank offered a lower center of gravity, reduced internal water churn and due to their internal baffle doors, allowed for optimal water flow while minimizing front to back surging. These features increased stability and safety during transportation, which was ideal for RP Development’s application.

“For the Riverhawk and Sorano, we were hauling up to 328,000 gallons a day,” Bauman said. “With the old tanks, it would have taken almost 70 trips to deliver that much water. Assuming half an hour to deliver, dump and refill, even with two trucks hauling constantly, it would have taken us 17 hours to match the productivity of the new tank. With the PHIL tank, we can do it in an 8-hour shift.” 

RP Development isn’t the only one taking notice of the increased efficiency. Other contractors in the competitive Tri-Cities region have reached out to the developer about the new equipment.  

“With any new approach, people are curious how it will turn out; so, from day one, contractors and developers have been watching what we’re doing,” Bauman said. “With the number of questions we’ve fielded about our PHIL tank, I’d say the competition thinks we’re on the right track. But we’ve always known that relying on our in-house team was the only way to produce the high-quality, customer-focused results we’d be proud to put our name on. Combining our experience with the latest technology – from an OEM that shares our core values – wasn’t an innovation; it was a no brainer.”

While other contractors and developers in the Tri-Cities area look to adopt RP Development’s model, the company continues to strive forward – maximizing its efficiency with a second PHIL water tank in the near future.

This material appeared in the June 2020 issues of the ACP Magazines:California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder

AEM Discusses 5 Ways Leaders Can Motivate and Inspire Remote Teams

By Judy Gaus, AEM Vice President of Human Resources and Operations

The sudden onset of remote work has impacted companies and organizations across the United States and around the world.

It happened almost overnight. The COVID-19 pandemic led business offices to close their doors and employees to find a way to conduct their work from home. We all went from congregating in meeting spaces and around cubicles to interacting “face to face” via our computer screens. For the past few months, we’ve found ourselves catching glimpses of each other’s homes, hearing dogs barks, and listening to children yell and laugh during video conferences. While we’ve never been farther apart from our colleagues, it’s nice to know it doesn’t always have to feel that way.

Now as the U.S. opens up and some offices begin to welcome back employees into their facilities, we know some members of the workforce will continue to remain remote for the time being. With that fact in mind, AEM wanted to share 5 useful and common-sense ways in which business leaders can motivate remote teams and help them keep pace with organizational demands and goals:

1. CHECK IN FREQUENTLY.

Whether it comes in the form of asking a quick question, clarifying a detail, or soliciting feedback on an idea, find a reason to reach out to your team members. Not all that long ago, it was so easy to simply swing by a colleague’s workstation and have a quick conversation. Now, with so many people working remotely, doing so requires being more intentional. And while technology certainly helps to facilitate communication while working remotely, it’s only useful if you’re willing to set aside a few minutes for video chat “face time” with one or more of your teammates.

While it can easy to feel like you may be intruding or imposing on others, you’re really not. And, by checking in more frequently, you’ll eventually become more comfortable and convey a message that regular interactions should continue to take place.

Subscribe to our AEM newsletters for more staff and expert perspectives.

2. HAVE FUN!

Making an effort to socialize and have fun with your team is critically important to establishing stronger inter-office relationships. For example, my team and I get together on video chat every other week over the lunch for about 30-45 minutes. We catch up with one another, take a break from our work, and talk about a favorite book we’ve read or a movie we’ve recently seen.

Ultimately, engaging your teammates and facilitating a bit of fun helps promotes a sense of belonging and community – something that’s incredibly important during these uncertain times.

In addition, AEM recently held an all-staff online meeting where we asked everyone to wear a crazy hat and we randomly selected individuals to share their favorite quarantine memory. This 30-minute meeting exclusively focused on fun and sharing personal stories. It was a great way to connect on a personal level without having any business on the agenda, and feedback has been very positive.

3. BE FLEXIBLE AND HUMAN.

The “traditional” workday is traditional no more, and flexibility is everything these days. As a leader, you need to know that your team members have a lot going on in their lives right now. Some may not be able to work the typical 8 a.m.-4 p.m. or 9 a.m.-5 p.m. schedule, and they need to know they can stop and address certain situations as they arise at home.

Few things will motivate your team members more than having a flexible boss who trusts them to manage their days effectively. Let them take care of their personal business, as they will likely go out of their way to re-engage later in the evening or early the next morning.

4. REINFORCE THE VALUE OF TEAM ROLES.

With how everything has unfolded over the course of the past few months, it’s no secret that priorities within organizations are constantly changing with time. Organizational pivots are stressful experiences, and they can cause quite a bit of anxiety and uncertainty among employees.

If you’re a leader, one of your top priorities right now should be maintaining communications with the members of your team. Let them know if their roles are changing, and be sure to convey how their positions fit into the organization’s “bigger picture.” They’ll appreciate the fact that they are continuing to add value, even if comes in a different form than it did in the past.

5. PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR LEADERSHIP.

There’s no better time than right now to encourage your team members to step up, expand their skill sets and take advantage of available training opportunities. Let your employees be leaders, and allow them to come forward and let you know how they want to get involved.

As an established leader, you need to be flexible. Lead with empathy and understanding, and be sure to set your employees up to be motivated and productive by ensuring they have the support, tools and resources they need to become leaders themselves and – ultimately – bring greater value to your organization.  

ABC Joins National Initiative to Address Inequality of Opportunity

Associated Builders and Contractors today announced it is partnering with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on a national initiative to address inequality of opportunity.ABC will join the U.S. Chamber’s national town hall event on June 25 where business and community leaders will discuss concrete actions that can be taken by government and the private sector to address inequality through education, employment, entrepreneurship and criminal justice reform. As a partner on this important initiative, ABC will also host local and industry dialogues to further the discussion.

“Now more than ever, diversity, inclusion and equity must be the forefront of all business decisions,” said Brad Lewis, chair of ABC’s Diversity Committee and corporate director of supplier diversity for Hensel Phelps. “On behalf of ABC and its 21,000-plus members, we look forward to partnering with the U.S. Chamber to address the inequity in our country, develop action items that can be implemented in our workplaces and communities and meet the needs of a 21st century workforce.” 

“The moral case for greater diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace is indisputable, and there’s overwhelming evidence that greater diversity benefits the American economy, businesses, communities and employees,” said U.S. Chamber President Suzanne Clark. “We are proud to partner with ABC on this initiative and help develop a robust plan of action.” 

This national initiative will build on the work already undertaken by ABC’s Diversity Committee—formed to better reach underrepresented communities within the construction sector—and provides leadership and direction to chapters and member companies to promote diversity as an empowering competitive advantage through education, awareness and business practices.
 
Associated Builders and Contractors is a national construction industry trade association established in 1950 that represents more than 21,000 members. Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 69 chapters help members develop people, win work and deliver that work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which ABC and its members work. Visit us at abc.org.