Monthly Archives: September 2021

How Your Contracting Business Can Ride Out a Lull in Construction

In 2020, the construction industry took a big hit when many states seriously limited businesses due to the pandemic. In 2021, the Delta variant of COVID-19 has slowed construction spending, particularly as case numbers remain high. While this situation is rare, periodic slowdowns in construction are not. With these tips, you will know how to keep your business going despite a lull in construction.

Check Your Cash Flow
Ultimately, the biggest problem that you’ll have when income is low is the ability to keep paying your bills, including yourself. The way that you manage these two factors is called cash flow. In short, the more bills you have, the more money you need to keep the cash flow in balance. When you have the time, take a detailed look at your regular expenses and determine if any of them are unnecessary. Cutting out waste is a great way to improve your cash flow. Re-organizing your expenses may also help. For example, selling a piece of equipment you never use can give you extra funds at the moment, and make it easier to rent the same equipment for less.

Refine Your Processes
After each project, it’s common to take a few hours to think about problems that came up and how you would like to handle them in the future. For example, if you ended up buying too many materials for the project because you lack an efficient inventory, you probably spent more than you needed to. Refining your processes during the slow season is an efficient way to tighten them up. You can explore new building technologies and practices that help you decrease the amount of waste and complete work more quickly. Both of these can save money, especially if you keep improving over time.

Improve Your Marketing
The best way to ensure a steady supply of new clients is to maintain your marketing strategy. At slow times of the year, you’ve got more room to focus and more need to make your marketing effective. It doesn’t have to be extremely complicated or expensive, especially if you’re just starting out. If you don’t have much of a social media presence, or if you do but you let it go while you were too busy to keep it up, now is an opportunity to revisit it. Pay for a few sponsored ads and start engaging with the community. You might be surprised how many people will notice you.

Add New Services
Many contractors offer a variety of services that give them the option of running large and small projects. It’s common to spend the busy season working on projects that take up to several weeks and fill in the gaps with tasks that take less than a day. Think about the services the clients are likely to need after you’ve completed construction for them, like maintenance, upgrades, or repairs. If you live in parts of the state with cold, icy or snowy winter weather, consider jobs that you can do indoors. Demand for these types of projects tends to rise during the winter, so you may be able to fill your time better that way.

Keep Up on Administrative Tasks
If you’re running a business while simultaneously getting work done for clients, it’s likely that you will be struggling to stay ahead of all the administrative tasks. When you have to be careful about how you spend your time and money, those administrative tasks become even more important. Plenty of things that are hard to do during the busy season might be much simpler to schedule at other times:

  • Training
  • Invoicing clients
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Employee time off

Taking care of these things when you have minimal work available ensures that you are ready for the next busy season.

Keeping your construction business going throughout the year requires a practical strategy. By focusing on these aspects, you’ll have a better chance of getting through. For more information about running a contracting business, visit CSLS today!

5 Reasons to Join the Construction Industry in Your 20s

The average age of a construction worker is 41. A few years ago, it was a bit less than 40. Construction’s aging workforce shows that the labor shortage isn’t bringing in enough younger people. There are a variety of ways that businesses are trying to get younger workers’ interest. If you have been wondering whether you should start a career in construction in your 20s, here are five reasons you’ll be glad you did.

You Can Start When Demand Is High
On occasion, you’ll probably read something about the labor shortage in construction. For almost a decade now, the construction industry has had a significant shortage of qualified workers. Starting in the industry when demand is high can offer a lot of benefits. The more that companies need workers, the more likely they are to offer enticing benefits like higher wages or upward mobility. Of course, if you wait too long, then you might miss out on some of those opportunities. Answering the call at the right time could set you up for better career choices in the future.

You’ll Have More Time to Pick Up Skills
Although people learn new skills and change careers throughout their lifetimes, there are certain benefits to making that decision earlier in your adult life. When you are younger, you are less likely to have the same kinds of obligations that people have in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. As such, you may have much more time that you can devote to studying and mastering those skills. Put in that time while it is easy, and you will see it pay off. By the time you’re ready to add more personal responsibilities to your plate, you may already have an established business.

You Can Establish a Reliable Income Faster
These days, building a career is as much about reliable income as it is about job fulfillment. Lots of jobs out there aren’t predictable or reliable, and you’re more likely to end up with those in your 20s. By comparison, construction has lots of opportunities that don’t require as much to get started. The earlier you start, the sooner you will see benefits in the form of a higher, reliable paycheck. While your friends from high school are still trying to find good jobs, you might have years of steady employment experience and a future that will keep improving upon it.

You’ll Have More Time to Build Your Business
Businesses take years to establish, and it’s better if you have more time in which to do it. Take a look at people who started a business in their 20s compared to people who switched careers and started a business in their 40s or 50s. The business owners who started earlier have more time to learn from their mistakes and turn that knowledge into larger profits. People who start later still have potential, but they’ll have to balance it with other responsibilities and the pressure to prepare for retirement. The difference might mean the ability to sell a successful, lucrative business, instead of simply closing it when you’re done.

You’ll Have a Better Chance at Early Retirement
Most people don’t start a business just so that they can leave it. But thinking about your plans for retirement is a good idea to do at any age. Financial experts say that if you like the idea of retiring in your 50s to enjoy a longer life, you need to start as soon as you can. Businesses often offer more growth potential and the ability to increase profits than standard employment. The earlier you begin on your career path, the longer you have to plan and save to make your goals easier to achieve.

Are you ready to find out the advantages of working in construction? One of the best ways to get what you want is to become a licensed contractor. For more information, visit CSLS today!

5 Common-Sense Disease Prevention Tips for Your Contracting Business

COVID-19 certainly gets a lot of attention these days, but there are plenty of common colds and other viruses that make their way through the workplace every year. If you find that you often get sick at work, particularly during the fall and winter, your contracting business might benefit from implementing a few healthy practices. Here are five easy ideas to consider.

  1. Avoid Sharing Food

One of the best ways to minimize the spread of viruses is to stop sharing food. You probably already know not to split a drink with your coworkers, but this practice should extend to other types of food as well. If you’re participating in a shared meal, make sure there are adequate implements for each dish so that no one uses their hands to serve. For communal eating arrangements, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. After all, food poisoning is often caused by bacteria or viruses, which can also be spread from one person to another.

  1. Make Hygiene Easy

In order to keep people from spreading illnesses in the early period before they show symptoms, you should try to improve your hygiene options at the job site and regular workspace:

  • Keep tissues, paper towels, and napkins handy in the break area
  • Make cleaning supplies readily available, and ensure they are well-stocked
  • Put up signs with hygiene tips in the bathroom and break room

Your goal is to make cleaning up after eating or using the bathroom as routine and quick as possible. If people have to search for the next roll of paper towels or deal with a clogged soap pump, they probably won’t do it.

  1. Encourage Healthy Habits

Disease prevention involves promoting healthy habits. After all, if you are in better health, your body can usually fight back harder against viruses. As such, you can encourage the people you work with to take steps to improve their overall health:

  • Eating healthy food
  • Regular exercise
  • Wellness checkups
  • Updated vaccinations, including tetanus, flu, and COVID-19

These steps don’t always stop the spread of viruses, of course. But they make it easier for people to check in with themselves and know when something is wrong. That way, they learn early when they get sick and can take action sooner.

  1. Clean Frequently-Used Surfaces

Most viruses like the cold or flu transmit by droplets in the air or by contact. As such, people who are contagious may touch a surface, then spread the illness when someone else comes in contact with it. You can minimize this problem by cleaning high-touch areas, especially around hygiene and eating stations. A little more attention toward cleaning up break areas and wiping down doors or keypads can make a big difference. Keep in mind that a wet paper towel won’t be sufficient. A spray or wipe with antibacterial and antiviral cleaning agents is best.

  1. Offer Flex Time for Illness

When people get sick, you really want them to stay home. Sick people are more likely to make mistakes and could possibly get injured or injure others by accident. That’s on top of the fact that people who have a cold or another virus will spread it to more people if they have to go to work. Instead, consider offering flex-time that people can use when they get sick. Paid time off is a great option, but flex time is too. With this option, workers who are too sick to work on Monday might be able to put in more time later to make it up. They don’t lose income, and you and the other workers on the job site are less likely to get sick.

Preventing the spread of disease seems like a big deal, but it really can be quite simple. When you follow these tips, you may notice that cold and flu season isn’t as disastrous for you or your contracting business. To learn more about the steps to becoming a licensed contractor, contact CSLS today!

5 Reasons to Take Breaks During Your Contracting Business Workday

When you get focused on a task at your contracting business, it is easy to forget everything else until you are done. But breaks are important, especially on long days. With this information, you’ll understand why you should take breaks, and the best ways to do it.

You’ll Be Safer
On a construction site, focus can be a great thing. It can also be a dangerous thing, particularly if you are so lost in your work that you lose the ability to acknowledge your surroundings. Not everyone has this concern, but if you do, it’s an even better reason to take breaks. You don’t have to switch to something else every 15 minutes, of course. But it’s a good idea to break up your flow at least once every couple of hours to check in with yourself and the site. If you’re ever working alone or far away from others on the job site, you’ll be glad you did.

You Won’t Burn Out on Tasks
Any task can turn into burnout if you do it often enough and long enough. Some people thrive in the kind of environment wherein they do not stop until they are done. But for most people, that’s the quickest path to disaster. Even if your brain understands that you’re trying to get something done, your body doesn’t. As such, you may notice that your body is responding in negative ways, such as:

  • Distraction
  • Burning muscles
  • Stiff joints

Your body will remember these effects long after you finish the task. And the next time you try to do it, you’ll be more likely to experience them. By taking a break before you reach this point, you short-circuit that whole problematic spiral.

You’ll Avoid Overusing Muscles and Joints
Of course, there are many things that can go wrong with repetitive tasks that aren’t related to your ability to focus. Many people in jobs that require a lot of manual labor end up with repetitive stress injuries. It’s a common problem for professional athletes, as well. Those long work sessions that never seem to let up put additional pressure on your muscles and joints. Over time, if you do not give yourself the opportunity to rest and recuperate, you’ll notice that what used to be an occasional pain becomes a daily one. In this case, you’ll want to take a break well in advance of starting to feel these negative effects.

You Can Look at the Big Picture
As a contracting business owner, you’ll probably have a lot of your own work to do while you supervise others. You may find that it’s difficult to tear yourself away from what you’re doing to relax or refresh. But even if you aren’t very successful at that, you need to take breaks to supervise the people who are working with you. It’s a smart idea to end your task at a good stopping point, sure that your station is safe, and take a look at everything else that concerns you on the job site. You may be more likely to spot problems, and you’ll have an opportunity to see progress as it happens.

You’ll Have Better Focus When You Return
If you’re having trouble focusing on a task, sometimes taking a break is just what you needed to hack your productivity. Lots of people find that they struggle to pay attention to their work at certain times of the day. And instead of recognizing that as a natural stopping point, they end up punishing themselves for failing to produce. Instead, those times give you a golden opportunity to take a break guilt-free. You can take a break, knowing that you’re not wrecking your focus or losing momentum, and return to the task refreshed and ready to keep working.

One of the most important parts of your construction workday is your break. When you learn how to use them, you’ll have a better week. To learn more about what you’ll need to have a successful career in construction, contact CSLS today!

5 Reasons to Incorporate Signs Into Your Contracting Business

As a contracting business owner, you’ll use signs for a variety of purposes. In order to ensure that you get your message across clearly, you need communication that is bright and easy to read. Here are five reasons your contracting business can benefit from incorporating more signage.

  1. Safety

One of the biggest reasons that you should use signs is to improve the safety of your regular workspace and the job site. For projects where you will be bringing in a number of employees or subcontractors, it’s a good idea to evaluate the flow of the site and determine if you need to use signs to get workers’ attention before they walk into danger. Organizations like OSHA may require you to place certain types of signs to ensure that people are aware of the type of work done in the area. Even something as simple as a sign outside the bathroom that reminds people of activity that may pass nearby can reduce the likelihood of accidents or injuries.

  1. Employee Information

Although you may know your business inside and out, you can’t expect your employees to be able to do the same. Providing information to them in the form of signs is a great way to let them know about things that are coming up or alert them to important changes. You can use printed signs as a way of keeping them informed about:

  • Policy changes
  • Safety guidelines
  • Training programs
  • Job opportunities

This is particularly useful if you have a series of temporary employees who may work for you for a project or two, but not all the time. Just make sure to change up the way that you design them on occasion so that people can tell when there’s something new.

  1. Business Branding

If you are just getting started with your contracting business, signs can start the process of branding your business. They don’t have to be particularly complicated, and you don’t have to put them everywhere you go. But using signs as a way of identifying who you are and the name of your business can go a long way toward creating brand recognition for people who might hire you. If you don’t have a business vehicle yet, you may be able to have a sign printed that you can attach to your own car or truck while you are on the job. It provides a more professional look without requiring a huge investment.

  1. Community Engagement

One of the best ways to get your brand out there for the public to see is to engage with the community. But in order for that to make a difference, you may need to use signs as a way of emphasizing the things you’re doing. For example, if you sponsor an organization in your community, they may give you the ability to put up a sign in a public place. You will need to make a sign that clearly delineates your business name and logo, if you have one. Investing into professional designs for things like this can help you contribute to the marketing for your business, as well.

  1. Customer Guidance

Signs can be particularly useful to help your customers know where they should and should not be at your workspace or job site. If you have a brick-and-mortar location where are you will occasionally meet with clients, it’s a wise idea to make sure that they know which door is the correct one to use. The last thing you want is for them to walk into an area that puts them in danger. You can also use signs that direct people who aren’t familiar with the job site to the right places. It’s an ideal approach for client visits, but it also works for other visitors to the site, like inspectors.

Making signs for your contracting business is just one more way that you can provide the most professional service to your clients. For more information about becoming a licensed contractor, visit CSLS today!

How to Get the Most from Your Contracting Business Workspace

If you’re like a lot of contractors right now, you’re trying to figure out ways to make the best of a workspace that’s not the jobsite. But even when you have more freedom to move around, you still need to think about using space efficiently. Here are a few ways you can evaluate your workspace and make it more productive.

Create Stations
An inefficient workspace is going to cost you hours in wasted time per week. To cut down on time spent moving from one side of the workspace to the other, create a set of stations for each task. You may not have a large warehouse where every project has its own spot. Still, taking the opportunity to organize your equipment based on the task makes it easier to get started, do the work and finish up for the day. Don’t forget to include a station for handling mail, invoicing and a place to keep your laptop and printer.

Plan Layout by Project
Having a set series of stations makes sense if you do very similar types of projects over and over again. If the services you offer are quite varied, you may need to take a flexible approach to structuring your workspace. In this case, you might want to plan the layout of the work area based on the needs of the particular project. Draw out a rough layout for each so you can repeat it later. If you are running more than one at the same time, you may have to split it in half or thirds. You’ll want to use organizational tools that are easy to move around, so that you can adjust it on the fly to create more space or design a different set of workstations.

Consider Adjustable Carts
In the middle of a crisis when most people are trying to maximize their home workspaces, you may not have a lot of room to move. If you are trying to do modular construction in a small workspace or garage, you may not have the ability to move from one station to another. In this instance, you want to make the stations come to you. Portable carts come in a variety of sizes, with the ability to customize them to hold tools and materials. Leaving room on one wall for a number of carts allows you to quickly pull one in for use, and then put it back when you’re ready to grab another one.

Organize Inventory Based on Use
If you’re like a lot of people, you organize inventory and equipment based on the way you think you should, not necessarily the way that you actually use it. For example, it may seem to make sense to keep all of your supplies in one place. But if you find yourself having to walk away from the workspace constantly to grab your supplies, you’ll waste time with this organizational setup. Instead, think about organizing your inventory and supplies based on the project. It may increase the time that you spend counting what you have left, but you’ll more than make up for it by having everything you need right where you need it.

Reduce Excess Clutter
In a small workspace, there is simply no replacement for a regular clutter management strategy. If you’re the type of person who prefers to clean up after you’re done with the project, this can lead to a lot of debris and waste in the corners. Over time, this can minimize the size of your workspace and increase the likelihood of injury. The best solution is to find organizational tools for papers that you need, and adequately-sized waste receptacles for packaging and buy products that you want to recycle or throw away. Keeping excess away from your workspace also minimizes visual clutter, which can make it easier for you to get work done.

Working from home or in another small space requires you to maximize efficiency so you can keep completing projects. These tips smooth out the rough edges. To get started building a great career in construction, contact CSLS today!

How to Stay Warm on the Construction Site

Working outside can be a great benefit for construction, except when the weather is bad. During the winter, it’s important to stay warm for your health and to help minimize the risk of injuries. With these tips, you will know the best ways to stay warm in most kinds of winter weather.

Watch the Forecast
Certain parts of California have a relatively predictable climate and a forecast that changes little from one season to the next. In other parts of the state, you can switch from cold to baking hot within the course of a few hours, particularly if you’re at a higher altitude. This change underscores the importance of watching the forecast as a way of planning out your workweek. If you can see heavy rains or snow upcoming, then you know that you’ll need to prepare to be colder. And since some of these storms can accompany other problems like mudslides, blocked roads or ice, you can prepare for those too.

Use Layers
When you were a kid, you probably had a parent or grandparent remind you to wear layers when you went outside. You may not have paid much attention to it as a kid, but it’s really important now. If you rely on a single heavy coat or coveralls to keep you warm in winter weather, you’re going to be playing a game of temperature control all day long. This exchange doesn’t do much for your productivity and can wear you out faster. Instead, wear multiple layers that you can add or take off when needed, including:

  • Long underclothing
  • Insulating layers
  • Outer layers with rain and snow resistance

And don’t forget to use layers for your head, hands and feet. A hat and gloves may not be sufficient.

Add Heat Safely
There are lots of ways to add heat to an outdoor or indoor space. You just have to make sure that the ones you choose are appropriate to the task and safe for the environment. For example, a propane-based heater may be a relatively effective way to provide additional heat outside. Inside, it’s a carbon monoxide nightmare. You also need to confirm that you’re not doing any work around it that could cause ignition. Indoor space heaters that run on electricity may be an alternative, but they are also a common cause of structure fires. Even the single-use heat packs that skiers use might be sufficient, but you have to be careful not to burn yourself in the process.

Take Breaks Indoors
If you’re doing a lot of work outdoors or in another space that is particularly cold, make sure that you have a warmer place to go to for lunch and other breaks. Even a single room with a heat source that you can turn on when you arrive and turn off when you leave could help you maintain a more constant body temperature. Many people use their cars as an additional method of heat generation, but you may come up against idling laws if you do. Try to scope out a few options near the jobsite as an alternative.

Change Tasks Regularly
One thing you need to know about working in cold weather is that it can aggravate some of the symptoms of repetitive stress. If you’re doing the same task over and over again for hours, your limbs or back may get stiff from the cold and repetition. This increases the likelihood of accidents, particularly if the temperature is low enough that you’re not getting good circulation to your fingers. Instead, try to change tasks on a regular basis, as frequently as every 15 minutes in cold weather. This allows you to work different muscle groups and keep your whole body in better working order during the day.

Staying warm during the winter is part of a construction job in many parts of California. So is a good foundation. To learn more, contact CSLS today!

Does Your Contracting Business Need a Better Cash Flow Strategy?

When you run a contracting business, you’ll quickly learn that cash is king. Without the money to keep the lights on and the bills paid, you wouldn’t have much of a business. But it can be tricky to get your income and expenses into a balance you can manage every month. Here are a few ways you can tell that your cash flow strategy needs an overhaul.

Mismatched Income and Expenses
It’s not uncommon for contractors to pay for the majority of the expenses for a project before they receive payment from a client. At times, this may be the only way that you can keep projects going. On the other hand, if you are regularly waiting much longer for payment than you have to pay your bills, you may have a cash flow problem. For example, if your suppliers bill within 30 days and you have to wait 60 days for payment, you may have as much as a month waiting to refill your account. For contractors who work on shorter projects, this can create a significant backlog. Extra money in savings can help, but it is not always enough.

Using Credit for Cash Flow
Credit can be an excellent tool to use to help cover minor shortfalls on occasion. However, when contractors begin to rely on credit as a way to fund every project, they may start to run out of options. After all, you can only use credit so much until you run out of money. On top of that, the more debt you have, the more you have to pay in interest and regular payments. As a general rule, experts recommend the contractors try to minimize the amount that they spend on credit for projects, particularly if they are waiting for a payment at an undetermined point in the future.

Trouble Getting New Credit
When you’re using credit for cash flow, the cycle of debt can begin to create other problems for you. For example, you might use a line of credit as a way to get supplies for your projects. Once that line of credit runs out, you may think that you can request an extension or get more credit elsewhere. Of course, this depends on a variety of factors, and you may not have an attractive borrowing record yet. If you find that you’re constantly running up against your credit limits and looking for options to add more debt to buy you more time, you may need to rethink your cash flow.

Regularly Declined Purchases
If your cash flow situation becomes serious enough, you may find it difficult to get the supplies that you need or equipment rentals. It’s not uncommon to negotiate an arrangement with your supplier where you buy materials on credit and then pay them back once you have received payment on your invoices. But if your clients aren’t getting back to you on time, your suppliers may decide that it’s too big of a risk. If you have a flexible line of credit, but you’re finding that you can’t use it, you may need to think differently about the way that you are utilizing credit in general to assist with your cash flow.

Paying Yourself Later
When you have more bills than you have income to pay them, one of the first places that you may look to trim back is your own paycheck. If you have employees, you’re required to pay them. But it’s tempting, in the midst of a cash flow problem, to think that you’ll pay yourself at the end of the next project and catch up. The problem is that over time, you can build a backlog of income that you’re not taking. And eventually, you won’t be able to keep doing work if you’re not getting paid for it. It’s better to think about ways that you can re-order your expenses to work with your projects, or incentivize clients to pay more promptly.

Learning how to analyze and manage your cash flow is one of the most important things you will do as a contracting business owner. To learn more about becoming a licensed contractor, visit CSLS today!

5 Household Goods Your Contracting Business Can Use at the Construction Site

When you start your contracting business, you’ll need to buy a lot of tools and other things for use at the construction site. But not everything requires heavy equipment or industrial materials. In fact, some of it might be easy to get at home, or cheap to source from people you know. Here are five practical things you may be able to find inside your own home.

Towels and Washcloths
There’s no denying that construction can be very dirty work. You may have a lot of sweeping or wiping to do, especially if you work in fields where you have to clean everything up at the end of the day. You can easily blow up your consumables budget by buying single-use paper towels, though. Instead, take a look in your linen closet and see what you don’t use anymore. Old towels or washcloths can be bleached to remove stains, and they will also remain absorbent for many years. If you’re just trying to wipe up a mess, and you’re not dealing with harsh solvents or other noxious cleansers, you may get a new life out of them before you toss them.

Stationery
At home, you probably have a supply of pens and pencils. You might even have a drawer where you like to keep them. But if they’re not getting used at home, you don’t necessarily have to invest a ton into buying them, especially for your contracting business. There is a time and place for having branded pens or notepads with your company logo. While you are running some figures or double-checking your numbers, you can use just about anything. Clear out your junk drawer or your home office, and bring the extras to work. That way, you can save your stationery budget for high-quality implements you can hand to clients before they sign a contract.

Organizers
You can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on specialty tool organizers or boxes that you can use to separate small pieces. Of course, you may already have something like this at home. And if you don’t, you may not have to waste a ton of money on buying something that is specifically designed for a workshop. Plastic containers don’t hold up as long as metal, but they’re perfectly acceptable to hold your paperclips or screw bits. As long as the environment isn’t too harsh for the container, you can freely repurpose what you already have.

Technological Devices
If the idea of having to buy a lot of equipment for your business makes you feel broke, you’re not alone. While technological devices are certainly handy to use for your contracting business, you can’t always afford to buy them at the same time as investing in construction equipment or other expenses. Look for recent castoffs from your friends and family, especially these tools:

  • Landline phones
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Laptops
  • Printers

Some people like to upgrade their devices yearly, which means that you might be able to get a recent model for a much lower price, or even free.

Cleaning Supplies
You’ll find that a lot of the cleaning supplies you use on the construction site are the same as the ones that you use at home. Of course, there are a few differences, and you should make sure that you are always using the right cleaning products based on the spill or pile. But for many messes, a broom is a broom and Windex cleans windows. If you stock up during a big sale and find out you’re not going through it as quickly as you expected, you can bring it to your business for faster consumption.

Buying supplies for your contracting business feels like a lot of effort, but you can make it easier. When you’re ready to start your career path to becoming a licensed contractor, contact CSLS today!

5 Ways to Manage Air Quality for Your Contracting Business

Air quality is a regular concern in construction, but especially during wildfire season. Poor air quality minimizes your visibility, but it can also make you sick if you are exposed to it for long hours throughout the day. If you still have to work outside, even when the weather’s smoky, you need to protect yourself. Here are five ways you can manage air quality on the construction site.

Check the Forecast
If you’re not sure what the air quality is going to be like during the day, your best bet is to start by checking the forecast. Although weather forecasts usually focus on sun, temperature and humidity, the National Weather Service often includes details about the air quality as well. Pay attention to the progress of wildfires in your area, and make a plan for the days that you know the air quality will be particularly bad. In some cases, adjusting your schedule so that you can do outside work during times with better air quality can save you a lot of complication and discomfort.

Minimize Emissions
Although much of your outdoor air quality is based on your general environment, the use of construction equipment can make the air quality around you even worse. For example, if you are running fuel-powered equipment, you will generate exhaust. As it accumulates, you may notice certain detrimental health effects. Proper ventilation is key, especially if you are doing work in a confined space. Limit your use of equipment that generates dust or fuel byproducts, wear proper protective equipment when you do, and ensure that every space gets proper ventilation.

Purchase Filtering Equipment
You are probably familiar with personal protective equipment (PPE) that construction workers use to protect themselves from hazardous substances on the job site. But you can also use PPE as a way to filter out smoke and particles in the natural air. The simplest tools at your disposal are an N95 mask and protective goggles. These tools are much more likely to be effective if you can get them fit-tested, which means confirming that they are actually providing a tight seal. When the air is particularly bad, you may choose to upgrade to equipment that provides a higher degree of filtration with cartridges that you can replace.

Provide Air Quality Break Areas
No one wants to work outside all day in poor air quality. At times, you might need to adjust the work you plan to do during the day to minimize exposure to the environment. On days when the air quality is moderate, you may be able to help by providing indoor break areas with improved air quality. Consider purchasing and using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, although you will need to replace the cartridge on a regular basis. Being able to take breaks inside and breathe generally clean air will make it easier to put a mask back on and be productive when you go back outside.

Work Inside When Needed
There will be moments where the air quality outside is so bad that you simply cannot get work done. If the visibility is low and the smoke in the air is high, you put yourself and your employees at risk for injuries and other health concerns. It is much better to spend a day working on tasks that you can complete in the shop and waiting for the air to clear, than it is to spend the entire day outside and feel too sick to work the next day. Keeping safe is the best way to ensure that your business can continue to operate.

Handling poor air quality is a common part of running a business in construction. For more information about how you can be a better contracting business owner, visit CSLS today!