How Contractors Can Build Their Reputation for Safety and Quality
By Bradford Wills, Construction Executive
Construction starts continue to be on a steady rise, meaning contractors are taking on more projects with no additional labor to complete them. While it can be tempting to skimp on quality products and services, safety and quality are intertwined, so there’s no room for lax building practices. Builders must be focused on providing higher levels of safety and consider installing solutions that incorporate safety measures that go beyond minimum code requirements.
Positive customer feedback is key to business success; builders and contractors not only need to make sure their projects are completed on time and on budget, they should look for ways to ensure the quality of their work is exceeding that of their competition. With key investments continuing in both safety and quality, contractors can benefit in the long run.
INVEST IN WORKER SAFETY
According to Electrical Safety Foundation International’s latest report, there was a 15 percent increase in occupational electrical fatalities between 2015 and 2016. The same report found younger workers were 2.3 times more likely to experience fatalities than more experienced workers. Given the nature of the work, electrical contractors and builders must put a large emphasis on safety to protect both their workers and their customers.
Investing in safety is not just a good faith gesture, it is a must-have for builders large and small. It is paramount that contractors emphasize a culture of safety within their businesses. To do so, electrical contractors and builders should invest in training programs that keep employees at every level up to date on the latest products, industry-wide codes and requirements, and company-specific safety policies. With reminders early and often, safety information can be absorbed more accurately and the information learned can have an effect on every project worked. For example, businesses can set aside time during their daily or weekly meetings to review safety protocols or requirements, answer questions and discuss new ways of approaching tasks to promote safer working environments. Ensuring a company’s culture emphasizes safety at every level is an important step in making sure every employee and customer is safe.
Beyond formalized safety trainings, contractors should also make safety information readily available for employees while on the job. For example, electronic portals equip contractors with the information they need anytime and anywhere via mobile devices. With knowledge on demand, contractors can improve jobsite safety and ensure the products they use enhance the safety of builders’ customers.
BUILD BEYOND THE CODE
According to the NFPA, there were 1,342,000 fires reported in the U.S. in 2016, which caused 3,390 civilian deaths, 14,650 civilian injuries and $10.6 billion in property damage. To help combat fires across the U.S. the National Electrical Code (NEC) was created to set the foundation for residential, commercial and industrial occupancies, but NEC code adoption varies by state. Currently, states that have adopted the 2011 NEC, 2014 NEC and 2017 NEC total 42, leaving five states that have adopted the 2008 NEC and three that have no statewide NEC adoption.
Builders and contractors have the choice to build to code, or build beyond the code, to fully protect against electrical fires related to arc faults. By building beyond the code, builders not only provide safer environments, they also create new opportunities for their businesses. To build beyond the code, dual function circuit breakers, which combine arc fault and ground fault technology into one circuit breaker, can be used to eliminate the need for costly ground fault receptacles. Dual function circuit breakers not only offer protection against electrical fires and electrocution, but offer diagnostic technology that can identify the type of fault (arc, ground or thermal) that has occurred. By using this technology, builders can ensure their customers’ safety while increasing profits and reaping the benefits of a reputation for high quality.
IMPROVE PROJECT MANAGEMENT CAPABILITIES
Builders today must take on more projects with the same amount of labor. To do so, they need to use project management technology to help them work smarter and more efficiently. By utilizing project management tools like scheduling and tracking software, project leaders are given access to the information they need to make better business decisions. In addition, businesses can use tools or portals to provide each employee with access to product, safety or regulatory information. By ensuring each person in the company – business owners, leaders and new hires – is equipped with more information, the company as a whole can provide customers with high quality output.
Safety and quality are two of the most important qualities that ensure builders fulfill their customers’ needs and stay ahead of the competition. Now more than ever, building a reputation for safety and quality should be top of mind. With the right tools and practices in place, electrical contractors and builders can improve both worker and customer safety while delivering the best quality products and services possible.