Warm weather and blooming trees may signify the coming of spring to most folks, but for those in the construction industry, such indicators mean that the busy season is about to start: construction season. If you're part of an established company, you probably already have some jobs lined up on your calendar, but springtime brings an influx of inquiries that makes it tempting to fill your schedule to the brim. Use these tips to prepare for and successfully tackle the oncoming spring and summer construction season.
Tip 1: Reflect and Plan
Before you dive into hiring, scheduling, buying equipment and getting to work, it's highly recommended that you think back on the previous construction season. Ask yourself what things went wrong, but also what things went very well. From there, you can make a list of problem areas to watch out for and improve during the upcoming season — and you can identify and bolster your strengths even further.
As for planning, this process goes much further than simply getting everything loaded into the calendar. On top of job scheduling, you should also dedicate specific days and weeks prior to summer construction for hiring and training — many accidents and inefficiencies on job sites are caused by improperly trained temporary workers. To ensure that your team is trained on more than just the minimum requirements, make sure your training materials are up to date (and up to snuff) before hiring begins.
Finally, you need to examine historical weather patterns in your area and think about how Mother Nature will affect your schedule as you plan out your jobs. Using these patterns, you can add some padding to your calendar to account for the possibility of inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances. You should also create or review your plans for protecting your crew in the case of storms or other extreme weather conditions, including the processes for communicating the situation and getting everyone to safety. Finally, make sure all of your job contracts include an inclement weather clause to add some flexibility to your deadlines and protect your team's wellbeing.
Tip 2: Hire and Train
Hiring can be a challenging process the closer you get to construction season. That's why it's so important to start hiring early so you can snag the best possible crew members as opposed to others who may be less experienced or qualified. Getting your team together early also gives you more time for company orientations and training so you can all begin summer construction with the proper knowledge needed for safety and success.
Tip 3: Fill in the Gaps
While it's important to keep some padding in your schedule in case of setbacks, you also need to have a full calendar to make a profit and keep everyone working. In between larger jobs that may take weeks at a time, take on some smaller projects for residential properties that might only take a few days to complete. It's the ideal way to maximize your time without sacrificing quality or sanity this construction season.
Tip 4: Get Proper PPE
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is the most important thing you can equip your workers with aside from construction tools and machinery. Every employee should be equipped with new PPE that meets the standards and requirements for each unique job. PPE should also be available in a variety of sizes to suit every employee's body structure — PPE can only provide protection if it fits properly.
Types of PPE for Construction Season
- Hard hats
- Protective gloves
- Protective goggles
- Full face shields (if cutting, grinding or chipping)
- Respiratory protection
- Earplugs, earmuffs or other hearing protection
- Guardrails, safety nets and other personal fall arresting systems when working on elevated surfaces more than six feet above the ground
- Reflective and brightly colored vests for visibility
Dress codes should also be implemented. In general, workers must wear shirts with sleeves, long pants and sturdy shoes, like work boots, to protect their skin and feet in hazardous construction zones. Lighter, more breathable PPE is available for combating the summer construction heat, helping workers stay as comfortable as possible in spite of the layers of clothing. Also, consider waterproof PPE in case of rain.
Tip 5: Stock Up on Supplies
Aside from PPE, you should also take inventory of your construction equipment before summer hits. Is any of your equipment wearing down? Do you have enough tools and supplies to make, test and install the materials needed at your job site? If you notice that any of your machines need to be replaced or any of your tools and supplies need to be replenished, make a list and get to it! The sooner you get your equipment in order, the more stress you save yourself in the long haul throughout construction season.