Managing Client Expectations Under the Current Supply Shortage

As most of us make our way back to somewhat normal business operations, there is no denying that the pandemic has changed much of what we do, and how we do it.  In addition to the demand for increased safety measures, contactless consultations, and interactive technology, the roofing and construction industries have experienced a massive hit to the supply chain.

Prices for lumber and other construction materials and supplies are rising, and there is no relief expected until at least 2022. According to a recent report, on May 21st the cash price per thousand board feet of lumber climbed to $1,514, reflecting a massive 323 percent increase from April 2020  (source: Fortune).  The accelerated and dramatic increase is considered to be the fastest gain in pricing since the post-World War II housing boom.

Additionally, just this month (June 2021), IHS Markit and the Procurement Executives Group (PEG) reported that engineering and construction costs rose for the eighth month in a row, with all materials and equipment categories reporting increases for six consecutive months. (Source: ForConstructionPros.com) With low supply and high demand, the price increase is not the only pain in the side of roofing and construction professionals – It’s the delay in starting projects due to the inability to secure the materials needed.

For many contractors, lead time on materials is pushing jobs back up to six months or more, and it can be a cause of both confusion and frustration for clients.  For this reason, it is critical that contractors clearly communicate with clients about the delay and effectively manage expectations.  Here are a few things to keep in mind as you inform clients of the current conditions:

  1. Plan Ahead – For existing clients, it is vital to inform them of the importance of planning ahead.  With the current rise in demand and cost of materials, delays in receiving materials are only getting lengthier; the longer they wait to make a decision, the greater the delay may be to begin and complete the job.  By planning projects earlier than expected, they may be able to decrease the wait time.
  2. Pay Now – While prices are high now, they are only going to get higher.  According to various industry projections, prices for materials are expected to increase over the next three quarters. Planning and paying in advance may save the customer up to 10 to 15 percent now for a project that will be started later.
  3. Make it Temporary – Some clients may have a need for immediate repairs that can’t wait for all materials to be available.  For this reason, it is important to offer a variety of temporary solutions until the project can commence.  Offer repairs and remedies that you can do now to keep their roof watertight for rainy season and protected until the full scope of services can be met.  Consumers will be looking for assurance that, despite the delays, any necessary repairs will be made now to ensure their safety and a successful job in the future.

While contractors cannot control the supply chain, they can control how they communicate with clients to manage expectations.  In uncertain times like these, developing security and trust with clients is more important than ever before. By being patient, providing open communication and encouraging clients to be proactive and to plan ahead, you will be able to build a relationship that will benefit you and your clients far beyond the life of the contract.

To learn about how Brauner Safety Services can provide security for your business in the form of safety training programs and equipment, job site assessments and consulting services, contact Brauner Safety Services.

Rising Temperatures Lead to Increased Safety Measures

For those of us who reside in Florida, the heat is a well-known safety factor when it comes to roofing and construction.  And with rising temperatures nationwide (and globally), the need for taking proactive safety measures has never been more apparent.

According to NOAA’s 2020 Annual Climate Report, the combined land and ocean temperature on the planet has increased at an average rate of 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit (0.08 degrees Celsius) per decade since 1880; looking at more recent decades, the average rate of increase since 1981 has been more than twice that rate (0.18°C / 0.32°F). While that may not appear to be much, even just the slightest increase in overall global temperature can lead to record heat, heat waves and extreme weather events, all of which have been on the rise.

Scientists have concerns and confidence in that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.

Currently, we are facing the start of summer, and according to Weather.com, temperatures will reach above average for the season across the U.S. A hotter than average June through August is expected from the West Coast to the Mississippi Valley and western Great Lakes. The northern and central Rockies into the northern and central Plains have the best chance for a hot summer, with the East and Southeast expected to be near or slightly warmer than average.

So, with all this talk of high temperatures, what can you do to ensure the safety of your team and crew members?  Here are a few tips and resources to help you take the appropriate steps to prepare your crews for the increased temperatures ahead:

Train Your Team

It is the responsibility of the employer to train all team members and workers on heat hazards, signs of heat exhaustion and illness, as well as first aid.  A good place to start is to check out OSHA’s resource for recognizing heat-related illness.  You may also choose to run a team training series and hire a professional like Brauner Safety Services to design and implement a safety program to keep everyone up-to-date and heat-ready.  Whatever method you choose, make sure that the training is provided in multiple languages to meet the needs of your crews and keep them safe and informed.

Timing is Everything

Keep in mind the 20% Rule – The rule states than no more than 20 percent of the duration of a new worker’s shift should be at full intensity in the heat.  As they become more accustomed to the heat, the duration of time at full intensity should be increased by no more than 20 percent per day until fully acclimated.

Another way to provide limited time in the heat is to stagger crews on site throughout the day, alternate crew members from interior and exterior areas of the project and follow “Water. Rest. Shade”.  According to OSHA, “Water. Rest. Shade” means that workers should drink one cup of water every 20 minutes while working in the heat to stay hydrated. In higher temperatures it should be standard practice for workers to take frequent rest breaks in shaded, cool, or air-conditioned areas to recover from the heat.

Know Your Resources

OSHA has a full website dedicated to resources that keep employers informed, as well as provide tools to educate their employees about heat hazards and safety measures.  In 2011, OSHA launched a comprehensive campaign to prevent illness and fatalities caused by exposure to high temperatures on the job.  You can learn more about  OSHA’s campaign to prevent heat illness by visiting the heat exposure section of their website, as well as find a library of helpful (and printable) resources in English and Spanish. 

To learn more about workplace safety and have a customized safety plan and training program developed to meet your needs, contact Brauner Safety Services.

Honoring and Participating in Workers’ Memorial Day

Every year (on April 28th), OSHA recognizes an important day for respecting and remembering all those who have lost their lives on the job; this day is a national day of remembrance named Workers’ Memorial Day (aka International Workers’ Memorial Day – #IWMD). For those of us in roofing and construction, we are well aware of the high-risk nature of the workplace and how mitigating those risks through safety training and education is key to reducing serious injuries and fatalities in the industry.

During Workers’ Memorial Day, we take a moment to pause and pay our respects to those who have lost their lives on the job, while recognizing the impact these tragic losses have on families, co-workers, and communities. This year, the day holds even more significance as the risks have extended well beyond the construction industry and into the lives of essential workers who have put their lives on the line every day during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those essential workers are not only on the frontlines in hospitals and healthcare facilities, but they also include grocery workers, meatpackers, delivery drivers, farmworkers, law enforcement officers, teachers, sanitation workers and more.

This year, Workers’ Memorial Day has also reached a milestone – Today, marks fifty years since the Occupational Safety and Health Act went into effect, promising every worker the right to a safe job. As stated on OSHA’s website, on this day “we remember and honor every worker who has lost their life to largely preventable fatal injuries and illnesses, and we commit ourselves to fighting to make sure that others do not suffer the same terrible fate.”

Although it isn’t quite possible to safely gather in large groups to share in this day together, one can still spread the message and remembrance by creating conversations around social media and encouraging people to take necessary measures to create a better tomorrow. Additionally, OSHA will be hosting a national virtual event via YouTube on Wednesday, April 28th at 2:00 pm (ET).  The event is open to the general public and will honor workers who have lost their lives on the job.  You may view instructions for accessing this event and other Workers’ Memorial Day events on OSHA’s website.

And while Workers’ Memorial Day only takes place for one day each year, safety for all workers through proper equipment, safety training and education should take place throughout the year as we work together to reduce injury, illness, and fatalities on the job.

To learn about how Brauner Safety Services can provide custom safety training programs to ensure that you and your crews are properly equipped and prepared for all conditions on the job, contact Brauner Safety Services.

On the Importance of CERTA Training

With all of the safety measures that roofing professionals have been forced to create and implement in the last year as a result of COVID-19, there has been an increased risk for falling short on industry-specific safety standards and training.  While the pandemic has put all workers (and all industries) at risk, roofing and construction remain high-risk industries that require regular training and reinforcement of industry-specific best practices in order to maintain safety on the job.

While the Fatal Four (falls, electrical exposure, struck-by and caught-in/between situations) are well-known and a given when it comes to addressing job-related risks and developing a comprehensive safety program, training that is specific to certain tools and equipment is equally as important.  The truth is that proper safety is multifaceted and requires dedication to learning and acquiring the skills necessary to identify risks, as well as understand the tools and resources that are available to mitigate those risks.

For this reason, we are focusing on just one of the many safety trainings that is essential for roofing professionals – CERTA Training. 

What is CERTA Training?

According to NRCA (National Roofing Contractors Association), CERTA is an acronym for the Certified Roofing Torch Applicator program. It is a training program designed to teach roofing workers how to safely use roofing torches.

CERTA training demonstrates how proper roof system configuration design and application techniques can result in fire-safe installations. In 2003, insurance industry representatives approached the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) to address concerns about increasing incidents and losses occurring from roofing workers’ torching activities. There was a clear need for focused safety training addressing torching activities, and as a result, the CERTA program was developed.

The current CERTA program provides the best practices and newest industry requirements for torching activities.  The requirements are met through a certification program where authorized trainers such as Brauner Safety Services deliver effective behavior-based training to roofing workers.  There is simply no comparable training program available in the roofing industry. 

Upon completion of a CERTA Training program with Brauner Safety Services, participants will be able to:

  • List personal protective equipment requirements for torching activities.
  • Describe basic first-aid procedures associated with torching activities.
  • Explain proper steps and procedures for handling propane gas cylinders.
  • Identify components of a torch assembly.
  • Demonstrate safe assembly, lighting and use of torch equipment.
  • Identify the key elements of comprehensive pre-job inspections.
  • Recognize hazardous areas.
  • Demonstrate safe torching techniques near hazardous areas.
  • Explain post-job fire watch and other safety-related duties.

From a business perspective, CERTA Training just makes sense.  The program offers business owners multiple benefits including but not limited to insurance savings, hazard/liability control, and improved employee safety.  CERTA Training lowers the risk for roofing contractors, assures compliance with insurance underwriting guidelines and reduces exposure of personal and corporate assets.

To learn more about CERTA Training and to schedule your next session, contact Brauner Safety Services today.

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