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Cost of Health and Safety in Construction

Profit margins in the construction industry are generally small (about three to four percent) and the competition is fierce between rival companies trying to win business. Often, contractors will undercut contracts in order to win bids. The result is enormous pressure to get the job done on time and under budget. Many construction companies have put clauses in their contracts that provide bonuses for finishing a job early, which provides an incentive to finish the work ahead of schedule, leading to periods of intense overtime. Unfortunately, this can leave worker health and safety as a low priority.

The direct costs of injuries can be a substantial burden on employers given the small profit margins in the industry. A $10,000 injury can wipe out the profit margin from a $333,000 job that has only a three percent profit margin.

Investing in Health and Safety

The process of preventing employee injuries and illnesses itself has many components, including the integration of health and safety issues into the management of projects. This requires a “culture shift” in the way workers on construction sites are managed.

The construction industry has come a long way in improving its safety performance — with significant reductions in workplace injuries and fatalities — but despite the progress, the fatalities that occur in the industry are still devastating, and more improvement needs to take place.

The key to achieving healthy and safe working conditions is to plan, control, monitor and review any issues that may occur. Making changes to improve health and safety standards and reduce accidents and ill health can also increase profitability, productivity, recruitment and retention and quality.

Time and thought invested at the start of a project will pay dividends not only in improved health and safety, but also in:

  • Reduction is the overall cost of ownership, because the structure is designed for safe and easy maintenance and cleaning work, and because key information is available in the health and safety file;
  • Be able to create more predictable cost benefit analysis;
  • Clear Communication and collaboration; and
  • A better quality finished product.

Final Thoughts

The efforts devoted to planning and managing health and safety should be in proportion to the risks and complexity associated with a project. When deciding what is needed to comply with regulations, the focus should always be on whatever actions are necessary to reduce and manage risks.

By taking an active role in developing a safety and training program, construction owners benefit from reduced costs, faster project turnaround, and better work quality.

A prepared construction contractor benefits tremendously because they understand that safety affects the successful completion of the job and adds significantly to their bottom-line. Additionally, the costs of accidents are significantly reduced, which also continues to improve the bottom-line.

image via: www.alphaconstructionoc.com

Crane Company

Insurance premiums are a complex business for construction companies, who face more costs and risk than many other industries. Adding to the difficulty is that insurance policies renew every year, leaving many business owners scrambling to protect their business’ interests and their bottom line. However, there are a few ways to make the obtaining insurance for construction companies a smoother process.

Right now, the insurance market is soft and prices are down, but the market is also in a state of flux due to changes in contract liability coverage and exclusions for wrap-up programs and residential work. And while with the help of a good broker and accountant a business owner can address many of the concerns regarding insurance for construction companies, it helps if they have a personal understanding.

When a business owner understands the details of insurance for construction companies, they often earn the respect of their insurance broker and demonstrate their expectation for the broker to help arrange the best possible policy for their business.

Safety First

The key to keeping costs of insurance for construction companies low on an annual basis is to keep the number of claims to a minimum — for a business with large deductibles and poor losses, claims payments can quickly add up.

By implementing a strong safely program, training employees on best practices, and emphasizing the need for education and the application of safety skills, many problems and claims can be avoided. The added advantage is that when something does go wrong and the contractor makes a claim, overall costs are more reasonable.

It’s important for business owners to take a safety-first attitude to insurance, and to ensure that every project their company takes on will be coverable by the chosen insurance plan. Gaps in an insurance plan can be costly when accidents happen.

Rates, not Premiums

While it’s easy to think of an insurance premium as the bottom line, that number may distract business owners from other important information.

An insurance premium rate is the dollar amount paid for every $1,000 of revenue or $100 of payroll. When that number is multiplied by the actual revenue or payroll, it results in the company’s premium, which will change year-to-year with the business. It is more useful to compare premium rates over the years than the fluctuating premium price-points.

Quoting Insurance for Construction Companies

In the construction industry, smaller contractors often bid on requests from project managers, leading to competitive pricing on jobs. However, the insurance industry doesn’t allow for this patchwork system, and only accepts submissions from one agent per insured.

To create some advantageous competition, there are a few things a business owner can do to receive the best rates and policies when seeking insurance for construction companies. First, they should assign markets to every agent they are working with, so that they’re sure to see all of the options. Additionally, they should share the information from each option with every agent they work with, so the agents know that the company is working with a wealth of data, which is at their access to offer the company better proposals.

Business owners are recommended to make sure they’re getting all of the information that the agents receive from the issuance carrier, including full quotes and declinations. Requesting copies signed by the carriers can help to ensure this.

Deadlines Make Things Happen

Just as in construction, trying to build an insurance plan without reasonable deadlines can make production come to a standstill. The best course of action is to begin the process about a month in advance of renewal, and set deadlines for proposals two weeks before needing to renew. That way both the business management team and the broker have time to review and choose an option, negotiate its price, and confirm the right plan for the company.

photo via www.enhancedinsurance.com

crane lifting safety tips

One of the best ways to prevent job site injuries is to get your employees and managers to buy into the safety culture. This can be done when you make it a priority to clearly communicate safety standards on a consistent basis.

In reality, many employees often turn a blind eye to risky behaviour. There is usually a gap between how workers perceive their role in safety and how they feel about others on the job site. For example, in the Safety Culture Survey by Safety Perfomance Solutions, 74 per cent of respondents said they’d like their peers to point out safety issues, but only 28 per cent thought other people would appreciate feedback.

How to Communicate Safety Standards Internally

Part of the problem is that many employees don’t want to insult older or more experienced coworkers, and don’t feel qualified to give safety feedback. In an effort to make our workplaces safer and to prevent accidents, we’ve compiled advice for building constructive safety environments.

  • Praise: It’s important to praise employees who perform their work safely. One-on-one, genuine praise works effectively. This encourages positive behaviour to continue by rewarding safe practices.
  • Offer Education: Access to training and educational resources helps employees take responsibility and pride in their own safety practices in a way that simple top-down orders cannot. Regular training programs can help safety practices become an organic part of the culture, while signs and regulations serve as static reminders.
  • Post Signs: That said, reminders are a good thing. Written warnings and reminders provide gentle guidance and reinforcement of the most important safety requirements. People respond more to visual information than written words, so it’s a good idea to include pictures or diagrams of expected behaviours wherever possible.
  • Toolbox Talks: Toolbox talks and group meetings are a great way to build a culture that is comfortable to communicate safety standards. The Safety Culture Survey found that 90% of people feel they should point out risky behaviour, but only 60% actually do. Toolbox meetings are a great way to provide safety-related feedback in a personal but indirect manner. This is important since employees are more likely to respond defensively to direct, rather than behavioural, feedback.
  • Make it Part of the Job: Safety standards should become part of the employee review process, in terms of both corrective feedback and reward for consistent safe work. By emphasizing standards in performance reviews, you send the message that safety isn’t optional in your work culture.

Protect your Employees

Some employees fear reprisal if they bring up safety issues in the workplace, and don’t want to be seen as complainers. In 1997, the Department of Labor found that workers who brought up complaints were very vulnerable to punishment or reprisal. We can work to change that. Employees working on the job site have the closest and most personal view of safety issues, so it’s important that managers protect and listen to their opinions.

Skipper Kendrick, the manager of Industrial Safety and Hygiene for Bell Helicopter Textron, suggests a “Day of the Pig” on which employees can bring up and health and safety or environmental problems without fear of fault finding, and with a promise of management accountability. Following through on employee complaints reassures them that their input matters.

It is in everyone’s interest to promote the best possible workplace, and employers can make this a reality when they clearly communicate safety standards throughout the company.

photo via www.delynsafety.co.uk

crane remote control

Operating cranes, especially on construction sites, has always come with considerable challenges, both in terms of safety and affordability. Until recently, crane operations were carried out, either by a cab-mounted operator, controlled by hand signals of a floor walker, or by push-button pendants connected to the crane and controlled by an employee standing down on the floor. The recent arrival of crane remote control systems has helped to change this.

With the increasing popularity of crane remote control systems, more and more wireless control systems are being used in the workplace, especially in the bulk material handling field. A crane remote control system works exactly like the pendant station, but uses a radio frequency instead of control cables attached to the crane.

The Versatility Of Crane Remote Control Systems

Now cranes can be operated wirelessly by remote control systems through radio signals. This advancement is coming as a strong solution in the marketplace, as it solves numerous operation and control issues. The new crane remote control systems ensure greater control over the machine’s movements, which guarantees safer operations, high accuracy and shorter unloading times each time the load is moved.

The introduction of crane remote control systems is a remarkable technological improvement in safety and productivity and could provide workers with a more comfortable working environment, thus leading to increased performance. The remote system is also able to reduce physical effort on site and increase durability of the equipment.

Among the top benefits of operating cranes using crane remote control systems is that employees can:

• Control the machines from a safe distance;
• Achieve increased mobility and efficiency;
• Control the crane’s position from any place on the floor;
• Benefit from increased safety and the flexibility of the machine.

Crane remote control systems further allow operators greater mobility to act fast in cases of emergency when time is of the essence. If anything should go wrong, the worker can quickly hit the stop button to completely stop any operation within less than a second.

Easy Handling And Enhanced Safety

Crane remote control systems bring much-needed improvements to job sites, especially in terms of safety and flexibility in handling bulk loads. Detaching the worker from the crane and having them work independently will significantly reduce labor costs and provide extra manpower to work on other tasks.

Project managers can easily train workers to use the crane remote control systems. Depending on manufactures, the buttons are positioned in a way that enables easy one-hand operation, allowing the operator to control the crane without focusing on the buttons and instead concentrating fully on the load.

With a range of up to a few hundred feet, crane remote control systems ensure maximum maneuverability on the construction site and can be easily handled with user-friendly controls and built-in safety sequence operations.

This being the case, a remote crane control system provides the best solution to a wide range of industrial requirements, allowing operators to work in complete safety with no more handling constraints. Crane radio control systems open up new possibilities for increased load handling, efficiency that also maximizes human resources and a reduction in industrial workplace accidents.

Crane & Rigging Conference | Industrial Crane & Hoist Conference

CRC/ICHC is an independent crane, rigging, and hoist conference for safety and risk managers, crane and rigging supervisors, fleet managers, and other people working with cranes in construction and heavy industry.

Launched in 2010 by MCM Events, the conference has been held in both the United States and Canada in partnership with various leading crane training and crane and rigging products providers. Education sessions are presented by crane and rigging experts, representing contractors, engineers, insurance providers, crane rental companies, training providers, and health and safety professionals, to name a few.

While some crane and rigging safety topics are timeless, others are predicated by industry trends, changes in standards and regulations, new technology, and shifts in labor demands. Conference staff consists of editors from Crane & Rigging Hot Line, ILH and Lift and Hoist International—individuals who have their ear to the ground regarding issues affecting users of cranes.

More than just a lecture-style conference, CRC/ICHC offers attendees opportunities for networking in small groups, experiencing hands-on learning, and the chance to visit vendors during exhibit hours.

crc/ichc conference

Key Features

  • Joint Sessions addressing broad trends, technology, and business issues.
  • Choices of multiple breakout sessions specific to mobile cranes, tower cranes, overhead cranes, and rigging topics.
  • Interactive sessions where attendees can try out crane simulators, rigging apps, or rigging inspection.
  • Small-group sessions where attendees can interact with industry experts one-on-one.
  • Exhibit center featuring approximately 30 vendors.
  • Breakfast and Lunch provided.

Who Attends?

Typical attendees include contractors, engineering firms, various construction user groups, unions, and crane and rigging professionals. The conference sessions are geared for safety and risk managers, crane and rigging supervisors, fleet managers, and small business owners. The following list is a sample of some of the companies that have attended past CRC/ICHC events.

Alon Refining ,Alltec Lifting Systems ,AmQuip,Balfour Beatty,BP,Buckner Companies,Chicago Bridge & Iron,Conoco Phillips,Crane Rental Corp.,Dow Chemical,Dupont,Eastman Chemical,Exxon Mobil,Gamesa Wind,Graycor Industrial,H&E Equipment,Imperial Crane,IUOE,Kansas City Power & Light,Kiewit Energy,LyondellBasell,Mammoet USA,Massmann Construction,Mortenson Construction,Peterson Beckner,Ray Anthony International,Shaw Group,Tennessee Valley Authority,Top Flight Steel,Turner Industries,US Army Corp of Engineers, US Navy

register for crc/ichc conference

Previous Industry Supporters

Over the years, a number of regional and national industry organizations have supported CRC/ICHC.

Among them are:

  • ABC, Pelican Chapter and Greater Houston Chaptercrc/ichc banner
  • Association of Crane and Rigging Professionals
  • Association of Equipment Management Professionals
  • Canadian Hoisting & Rigging Safety Council
  • Construction Users Roundtable
  • Crane Certification Association of America
  • Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance
  • Houston Business Roundtable
  • National Center for Construction Education and Research
  • Steel Erectors Association of America

Boscaro Self Dumping Bin

The A-D Series Self Dumping Crane Bucket

Bigfoot Crane Company is your one-stop shop from the smallest of self erectors to some of the largest tower cranes in the market today, all complimented with the accessories you need to maximize on-site crane performance. Bigfoot Crane is the exclusive North American distributor of Boscaro Crane Attachments.

using crane buckets

 

Crane accessories like Boscaro’s Self Dumping Bins provide a payload up to 10,575 lbs, capacity up to 4 cu yd and a “no hands required” self dumping feature that can increase safety and efficiency on a project site.

dumping crane buckets

 

Eagle West Equipment (acquired by Bigfoot Crane Company) had the opportunity to do a live demonstration of the A300D self dumping bins for our customer, Northwest Construction Inc. We consulted with them about their project needs and highlighting how the accessories could help them on their project.

self dumping crane bucketscrane buckets

 

Eagle West Cranes & Equipment’s Safety Application Specialist, Derek Autenrieth commented “The live demonstration went very well. Larry and his team saw the safety and efficiency that our self dumping bins offer. They purchased two self dumping crane buckets and we look forward to opportunities to work with Northwest again.”

self dumping crane buckets by boscaro

 

Northwest Construction Inc. based out of Bellevue in Washington State, is a full service site work contractor specializing in commercial, industrial, and residential developments throughout the Pacific Northwest.

This is what they had to say about their purchase and application of two A300D Boscaro Self Dumping Bins:

“The product demonstration and video that Derek provided for us when we came to Eagle West was very informative and definitely helped us in making our decision to purchase the bins and understand their value for us and our projects. We appreciate the time and effort put in by Eagle West and will continue to look for any opportunity to do business with them again and again.”

Larry Smith
Project Manager
Northwest Contracting Inc.

 


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tower crane safety tips

Written by: Robert Ingraham, Former HSE Director Eagle West Cranes Inc. (acquired by Bigfoot Crane Company)

tower crane in vancouver, bcHuman error is the most common cause of crane accidents. This extends to both crane operators and those workers responsible for maintenance and safety procedures. Accidents often occur when crane maintenance and operating procedures don’t keep up with the increasing risks and demands placed on the crane. Many accidents result from a breakdown in communication between the project manager, site supervisor, the operator and the workers on the ground. Accidents also occur when workers fail to follow safe work practices and procedures.

While a crane may appear to be a simple device, its operation involves complex physics. You don’t need to be an engineer to operate cranes safely, but everyone involved with their operation should be aware of and follow some basic steps for safe operation. Here are the steps I recommend:

1.    Complete an Inspection. Verifying that the crane has received its annual inspection is only the first required step. It’s critical to check the operating functions daily to ensure all components are working properly. Experienced and inexperienced operators are often surprised to discover they may have inadvertently pushed the crane beyond its limits and damaged key components of the crane that could lead to failure.

2.    Always complete a Field Level Hazard Assessment.  A Field Level Hazard Assessment is the process where you:

  • Identify site & job specific hazards,
  • Evaluate the risk associated with the hazards identified, and
  • Eliminate or control the hazards prior to and during the work task.

3.    Complete a plan. Each lift is different from another, and it’s important to review all hazards, the load weight capacities, integrity of the equipment, the possible effect of wind, and other factors. The operator, riggers, and other workers involved with the lift must be part of that planning process.

4.    Communicate the Plan. The purpose of a ‘Tool Box’ or ‘Tailgate’ meeting is to:

  • Communicate – Hazards & Controls for the site specific task
  • Communicate – Safe Work Practices & Procedures to be followed
  • Communicate – The Plan to successfully complete the task
  • Communicate – Assign clear roles & responsibilities to the ground crew
  • Communicate – Agree to the plan and sign off on the plan

5.    Follow the Plan. Far too often accidents occur when the agreed upon plan is not followed or enforced.

6.    Know your Ground Conditions. The most powerful, carefully rigged crane is only as strong and stable as the surface upon which it stands. You need to know the classification for the soil or other material under the crane, and adjust your setup and load limits accordingly. While many cranes are equipped with outriggers, extending them doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve provided a stable surface. It’s important to know the load weight and how that is affected by the conditions of your jobsite. The crane’s load chart can help you determine whether your lift will be safe.

7.    Know your Radius. The counterweight and boom travel within a specific arc is called the swing radius. It’s important to ensure that the area within that radius is barricaded off. It is critically important to establish a control zone for those authorized to work in the immediate area. Constantly check the area throughout the day to ensure that there are no objects the boom might strike. If obstacles are introduced, be sure that the operator and other workers are aware of the obstacle and the plan for avoiding it.

8.    Use your crane properly. Cranes are engineered for vertical lifting. That doesn’t stop some crews from trying to use them for side loading or other improper activities. Using a crane to drag something across the ground or from under an obstacle puts extreme stress on the boom, the turntable, and all the structural members. It could potentially weaken key components and lead to their failure.

9.    Communication. Whether you use radios, air horns, hand signals, or some other method, there needs to be clear communication between the operator and the other workers. That’s especially critical when a crane is making a lift in which the operator cannot see the load. Don’t assume that everyone knows how instructions will be communicated. Make sure everyone understands the system and follows it. (See Communicate the Plan)

10.    Stay Focused. Everyone associated with a crane needs to stay alert and focused on the job at hand, especially on critical or difficult lifts. The lack of focus is a common cause of work related accidents, incidents and serious near-miss events.