Monthly Archives: May 2016

Simple Ways to Improve Construction Site Safety

download (49)Construction site safety is an all-important facet of the construction industry. It is important to ensure the safety of the workers and staff on the construction team, whether it is building a new structure or demolishing an old one. It is crucial that they are protected from hazardous and toxic wastes. Construction site safety also involves taking steps to prevent accidents, injuries, and falls.

Although construction sites can be dangerous places, and statistics certainly prove that, taking meticulous and disciplined steps to ensure safety can prevent a lot of problems that are common now.

Even if a construction worker is not exposed directly to any hazardous waste, he could be exposed to it indirectly as part of his job. Any danger to the worker would depend on the duration and extent of the exposure to the hazardous material.

The kinds of dangers and illnesses and injuries that workers are exposed to on construction sites would differ from industry to industry. For example, brick masons could be prone to developing cement dermatitis and postural changes due to the heavy loads they carry (as do stonemasons).

Electricians could be exposed to solder fumes which contain heavy metals or asbestos dust. Insulation workers could be exposed to asbestos and other synthetic fibers that are harmful. Roofers can be exposed to roofing tar and excess heat.

There are different hazards for which construction site safety must be taken seriously. There are chemical hazards and physical hazards. Chemical hazards occur due to inhalation of vapors, gases, fumes, etc. Examples of this are bronchitis, asbestosis, silicosis, etc. It can also occur when chemicals get into contact with the skin, as in contact dermatitis and skin allergies. Those exposed to liquids and solvents could get neurological disorders. This is especially common among painters. Physical hazards could be due to heavy loads, noise, extreme cold or heat or barometric pressures. There can also be exposure to UV rays and radiation from welding. Strains, sprains, musculoskeletal disorders, etc., are common physical side effects. Falls, injuries and accidents are also common in construction sites.

In summation, here are a number of ways in which safety can be enhanced in construction sites, including the following:

  • Wearing well-designed protective clothing.
  • Wearing suitable footwear that can protect against unstable footing or slips.
  • Safe scaffolding.
  • Proper ventilation in sites. These would have to be mobile so that they could be taken anywhere, such as dust collectors mounted on trucks with their own power source, filters and fans. Measures such as these can reduce the exposure to toxic fumes and other hazardous gases.
  • Using material that absorbs sounds or reflects it will help to prevent noise-induced hearing damage.
  • Exposure to extremes of heat can be avoided by working at night, taking frequent breaks, drinking plenty of water, wearing sunscreen and sun-protective clothing, etc.
  • Emergency drills, first aid provision, and standby medical teams on site can help to provide immediate aid in the event of an accident and potentially reduce fatalities.

Is Your Construction Recruitment Agency Befooling You?

download (47)The market today has both good and bad construction recruitment companies. This content is an attempt to make the readers understand what the difference between the two is. Presently, the construction industry is witnessing its golden era; therefore, more and more people are trying to be a part of it. In order to get into the field, candidates are opting for recruitment agencies, especially those that are particularly catering to the construction sector. Unfortunately, not all the staffing agencies are worth trusting, like the one that reached my friend. There are a few reliable construction staffing agencies in the arena, but as stated a few.

It has now become really important to spot a bad construction recruitment agency, as the number of these fraud organizations is increasing at a rapid rate. Here are a few indicators that if taken into consideration can save you from a false staffing agency.

  1. The hidden cost

In case the agency asks you to pay for their services, you better maintain a distance. The staffing agencies are paid by the construction companies. As, the construction companies hire the recruitment agencies for their services; thus, the employers are the one to bear their charges and not you.

  1. The partially informed consultant

The consultants are among the best people to inform you about the job and company profile. So, if your consultant is not well aware about the company profile or if he fails to explain the job description, there is no point of connecting with him. They are paid for giving you complete information, and if they are not well-versed at it, you better don’t trust them.

  1. Encouraging false claims

There are many agencies that say, ‘it’s completely fine to put a few false statements here and there in your resume and interview.’ Trust me, it’s really not fine; rather, it is unethical. Being liberal to truth simply means to lie. The staffing firm that encourages it is indulging itself and you into an unethical act. Beware.

  1. Overconfidence

You must have heard the saying that overdose of anything and everything is bad, and the level of confidence is no different. An honest consultant will be confident, and he will not be ridding for a fall. He will not promise you that his connections will help you get the job, he will rather tell you that only your skills can get your through. Certainly, no one except the company itself can assure you job.

  1. Too Many Questions? Too Bad

Is the consultant more interested in gathering all your information, then actually briefing you on the job profile? An overview of your personal and professional background is more than enough for a recruitment agency. If they keep on digging, you should know where to put a stop.

Last Note: Everyone is not the same, everyone is not bad

As mentioned earlier, there are reliable construction staffing agencies around, so don’t just give up hope. Just keep your eyes and ears open while you deal with one.

$277 Million to Save the Statue of Liberty From Rust!

download (46)In an article in The Times on 11th April 2015, it was highlighted that $277 million was spent on trying to remove the rust. No matter how you look at it. $277 million is a lot of money; I wonder how and why an all-American (albeit French) icon was left to get into such a state in the first place?

My first question is why was the rust allowed to build and break down such an iconic structure to a point where its renovation cost as much as $277 million?!

‘There were cracks in her left eye, in her lip, in her nose and in her chin, she had a big stain on the front of her neck, almost like a drool. She had rust boogers’ wrote Jonathan Waldram in his book ‘Rust: The Longest War’.

A sorry state indeed for America’s First Lady, especially since her construction in the 1800s was such an epic undertaking in the first place.

Construction on a massive scale

Just to hold the 46m high statue upright requires a pedestal the height of a 30 storey office block. It was (and perhaps still is) the biggest concrete structure in the world. Over 240 men worked over a gruelling winter to complete it. The unusual shape makes safety scaffolding impossible so the construction was as difficult as it was dangerous. 300 copper pieces were fitted with more than 300,000 rivets to the skeleton; her robes consist of over 3,360 square metres of copper. Her outstretched arm is 12.8 m long and just one fingernail weighs over one and a half kilos.

The sheer blood, sweat and (maybe) tears that went into the construction makes me wonder why no cleaning & restoration regime was put in place from the start. I suppose this wasn’t high on the list of priorities for her creators. The statue has been subject to various renovation projects over the years, the most recent of which was in 2013.

What needs to be done going forward to preserve such an important American icon?

I’m not American so maybe I shouldn’t really care! On the other hand I can’t help but think this could have been prevented through some form of rust management or inspection programme. Reading around the subject there have been some claims that layers and layers of paint helped to conceal the corrosion. Not to mention the plethors of structural problems that have plagued her since she was erected in the late 1880s.

I hope that the Statue of Liberty now receives the care and façade maintenance she needs to live for another 100 years and beyond.

Author Bio: Reece Wood is an author, thought leader, façade condition consultant and innovator of specialist property façade and investment protection solutions working within the commercial property sector throughout the UK, Europe, Middle East & South-East Asia.

Working alongside commercial building owners, asset management companies, architects, surveyors and property management companies Reece Wood inspects, designs and implements unique façade management and protection solutions, which increase the property investors’ ROI, building performance and brand value.

Tips for Recycling Construction Site Debris

download (48)Construction site cleanup is an essential aspect of all construction-related work when you consider the large quantities of waste materials that are generated. Whether it is new structures that are being built or old structures being demolished, there is a lot of debris which has to be disposed of in a careful manner. Construction site cleanup should be done in a way that is eco-friendly, safe, and cost-effective.

Even though a large portion of the materials that are leftovers from a construction site are recyclable, they are still sent to landfills, which is a huge waste of valuable resource and materials. The best way to tackle this is to make sure that the recyclable materials are segregated from the non-recyclable materials during a construction site cleanup.

There is any number of toxic waste materials that could be left behind in construction waste, so this must first be assessed. When old buildings are demolished, there is likely to be a large amount of toxic waste from paints that contain lead and biocides containing mercury. There could also be fluorescent lamps containing mercury, leaded pipes, PCP ballasts, asbestos insulation, etc. In the construction of new buildings, the waste generated could be roofing tars, glue, solvent waste, paints and treated woods. These wastes should be segregated as toxic and non-toxic, and then as reusable and non-reusable. A door that has paint that is lead-based could be reused, but if it were to be discarded, it would have to be classified as dangerous waste.

When a building that is being demolished has structures that are of architectural or ornamental value, it is taken down and preserved carefully for sale or reuse. Doors and windows are regularly reused. Other materials that can be reused are carpets which can be recycled, gypsum board which can be used as an amendment for soil, and shingles which can be used for patching up roads. Cement blocks and bricks are also reused after mixing them with asphalt and concrete. This is then used to form the foundation for driveways and road beds. Wood lumber that is untreated and unpainted can be used as dimensional lumber or used in composting and landscaping after being chipped. It can also be used for trail surfaces, soil amendment, and to prevent soil erosion.

Here is a short list of substances that can be recycled from construction site debris:

  • PVC pipes
  • Vinyl siding
  • Carpet
  • Carpet pads
  • Aluminum siding
  • Asphalt shingles
  • Concrete
  • Brick or masonry
  • Antiques or ornamental stonework
  • Wood debris
  • Gypsum
  • Steel
  • Gas pipes
  • Metal pipes
  • Plumbing fixtures that are porcelain

 

3 Tips for Buying Commercial Real Estate Short Sales

download (44)Commercial short sales, which work in much the same way as foreclosures, used to be a fairly unattractive prospect. While you could pick up a property fairly cheap, you would often then have to find somebody to help you fix it up and turn it into a commercial premises that could actually be used, which pushed the cost up.

However, the current property market has created a climate whereby banks and lenders are much more willing to work with potential buyers in an effort to get non-performing loans off their books and back in the hands of people who will be able to start paying them again. As such, with the proper research you should be able to pick up the property at less than the asking price at a short sale, assuming you follow these tips.

Know The Property

Don’t go into a short sale with no idea about what the property you’re interested in is all about. In many cases the bank won’t want to tell you exactly how much a property is worth, so look into its history and work with a professional who is able to identify the positives and negatives before giving you a figure for what they think it should be sold for.

Keep this figure in mind when trying to purchase the property and use the results of your research as a bargaining tool. You will find that lenders are much more willing to sell quickly if you make a reasonable offer that takes the issues the property has into account, plus you don’t place yourself at risk of offering too much in the first instance.

Have The Budget

It is important to remember that the lender that is trying to sell the commercial property has already been burnt at least once before by a previous owner, so they will be looking for somebody who is able to demonstrate that they can back up what they say. As such, you should have more than enough money in your account to show that you will be able to handle initial costs and the loan repayments for a substantial period of time.

Print off bank statements and make sure that the right people see them. Furthermore, try to offer the largest initial sum that you can. This will help you stand out against other buyers who are interested in the property, in addition to increasing the confidence levels that a lender has in you.

Patience Is Key

Don’t get frustrated if your initial efforts end up fruitless. Some lenders may be a little stubborn and won’t be willing to let properties for a price that you deem fair, instead preferring to see if they can find a better offer. Don’t be suckered into making that better offer yourself.

Instead, simply wait and see what happens and always keep your budget in mind. In many cases you will find that nobody else has offered to purchase the property, which makes it much easier to negotiate prices once you show your interest the second time around.