construction | Work

Summer Construction Season Is Coming–Are Your Projects Prepared?

July 10, 2019


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7 Steps to Get Your Jobsite Summer-Ready

The days are longer, the temperatures are warmer and there’s the steady sound of hammers banging, cranes lifting and diggers digging everywhere. Yes, it’s summer–the “busy season” when it comes to construction work. But while summer is the season where construction productivity reaches new heights, it’s also a period where safety measures and best practices should be reinforced.

That’s because with warmer temperatures also comes an increased threat of sudden severe weather, which can lead to flooding, wind damage and other site damage. Additional risks include extreme heat, aggressive work schedules and more temporary workers who may not have the proper training.

Safety is paramount on sites during all times of the year, but it’s arguably the most important on summer construction sites based on the variables we laid out above. That doesn’t mean project teams can’t complete work on time and budget, but there are numerous strategies we’d suggest putting in place to prep your jobsite for the busy season to enhance site safety while streamlining efficiency. Here’s a look at seven of them:

1. Form a Plan

Do you have a plan for your summer projects? If you don’t, you should–and it would behoove you to formulate this plan before your projects really start ramping up. Here’s a look at some of the things that any summer plan should include:

  • What ifs: Define the procedure to follow in the event of a worst-case weather scenario. Similarly, detail an emergency plan of action if severe weather hits your jobsite. Where can you take shelter? How can you communicate with workers? Make sure your plan covers the whole gamut of potential summer weather, from severe storms to lightning to high winds to extreme temperatures.
  • Define a point person: Task a point person with performing a head count during storms. You might even appoint an on-site decision maker to hold workers accountable for knowing the proper procedures and following directions.

Any summer construction plan should be accessible on the jobsite so that workers can quickly refer to it in the event of inclement weather. Providing access through an always available cloud-based document management system is also helpful throughout the year.
On a side note, it’s never a bad idea to see if you can include inclement weather clauses in any summer construction contract. These clauses help prevent workers and work teams from making irresponsible decisions to meet project deadlines.

2. Hire Early

Like we noted above, one of the major challenges of the busy construction season is the influx of seasonal workers who may not be as experienced as the regulars. This inexperience can affect jobsite safety. One thing you can do to assume more experienced workers is to begin hiring sooner and prequalify subcontractors using software like BuildingConnected.
The sooner you hire, and the more you vet, the more likely you are to select from the pool of experienced, qualified professionals. Hiring early is also essential when you consider the labor shortage that’s currently impacting construction.

Additionally, the sooner you hire, the more training and company orientation you can provide to workers. Instead of just training workers on the minimum requirements, as you’d likely only be able to do by hiring late in the season, you can ensure that your team is thoroughly trained and ready to perform at a high level when shovels hit the ground.

3. Have the Right PPE

Arguably just as critical as proper training is ensuring your workers are outfitted with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE is important for safety purposes during all times of the year, but in times of extreme heat, the right PPE is vital to keeping workers not just safe, but comfortable too.
On that note, lighter, summertime-appropriate PPE should be considered, as should water-resistant PPE if there’s rain in the forecast. Also, don’t forget to account for the varying needs of the variety of sizes and shapes of your staff, including female employees. Not all PPE is created equally–and ill-fitting gear is a common safety issue for women on site.

4. Pad Your Schedule

We already discussed the importance of introducing weather clauses into the contracts of your summer construction jobs, but there’s more that should be done to pad your job schedule to ensure that you’re being overly cautious and not too ambitious. And while you certainly don’t want everything that could go wrong to go wrong, you always have to know that the potential is there.

Here’s what you should be taking into consideration when determining the schedule for your project:

  • Predictive modelingIf your project is particularly high-risk, it’s a good idea to run some data on how any extreme weather condition could impact your overall project. This can help you adjust the schedule to prepare for any worst-case scenarios.
  • Know historical weather: What’s the weather like, historically, in the area you’re building at the time of year that you’re doing it. You know what they say about history repeating itself. Don’t think that the weather won’t.
  • Site weatherproofing: Are there parts of your worksite that you can proactively weatherproof? Some ideas of things to include on site are guard rails for high winds, tarps to protect areas from rain and covered areas to seek shelter in when lightning strikes.

5. Protect Your Jobsite

You can’t control Mother Nature, but you can control how you prepare for the unknown when it comes to the weather. On this note, we stress being proactive–and not reactive–when it comes to anticipating the weather so that you and your team can take the appropriate measures when things get dicey.

Here are a few ideas for how to better protect your jobsite:

  • Appoint a “weatherman”: Assign a member of your team to be the designated “weatherman.” His/her duties should consist of monitoring the forecast by the hour and by the day, and then communicating regularly with the rest of the team to brief workers on conditions.
  • Secure your gear and equipment: Make sure you have the necessary protections in place to secure equipment and materials from severe weather hazards, like high winds and flooding.
  • Have a disaster response plan in place: If the unthinkable does happen and your jobsite endures flooding or damage, do you know who is going to clean it up and how it’s going to get cleaned up? Designate a response team and assign duties.
  • Emphasize communication: Make sure your on-site communication is at a high level, so all team members are on the same page. Consider using some sort of construction productivity software to keep everyone up to date with job schedules and potential issues.

6. Value Your Team

A key to any successful, on time and budget project is not just having a team that’s working well together, but one that’s enjoying what they’re doing. On that note, be sure to show appreciation for your team. We’d even suggest going above and beyond just communicating praise verbally and consider hosting regular barbecues or team lunches to build camaraderie and keep spirits high. According to research, engaged workers are more than 20% more productive. It pays to invest in team building activities and events.

7. Check-In

Finally, don’t just send your workers out to the project site and hope things go according to plan, make sure you’re regularly checking in with them and communicating with them. Listen to any concerns they have and work with them to resolve them as best as you can.

Issues come up on any project, but ignoring them will only make them worse. Be proactive with issues and ensure they’re resolved in a satisfactory manner, even if it means revising parts of the project. On the same accord, be sure you’re regularly checking in with supervisors and upper management to make sure you’re all on the same page.

Start Early to Get Your Jobsite Summer Ready Today

How ready is your team for the busy summer construction season? Take the time now to fine-tune any plans you’re expecting to implement this season to best ensure that your projects run on time, on budget and safely.

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