Monthly Archives: March 2022

5 Common-Sense Safety Measures for Your Contracting Business

Safety should be one of the most important things you do for your business. And yet, with the rate of accidents and injuries in construction, you might think that it’s not a priority for a lot of people in the industry. Safety is what allows you to go home at the end of the day, instead of the hospital. Try these five common-sense safety tips to minimize accidents and injuries.

Wear PPE
Personal protective equipment is one of the best ways that you can protect yourself and your workers on the job site. PPE includes things like proper clothing for the weather, as well as masks, gloves, and proper headgear. You should plan to keep a supply of PPE in a place that is:

  • Easy to find
  • Easy to keep organized
  • Within reasonable distance of the relevant task

People are more likely to wear PPE if they don’t have to go out of their way to get it. Create a culture of promoting the use of PPE, so that it becomes second nature for each worker to get ready before work.

Make Signs
People often need reminders of important information, which you can do by making signs and putting them in the right places. For example, someone might need to know which types of PPE are necessary for tasks involving noxious solvents. A sign with the checklist next to each station can help people remember which types of gear they will need. For a workplace where there are many tasks happening at the same time, you can make signs identifying the risk so that workers know to look. A simple sign warning people that vehicles move through the area could prevent serious injury.

Stay Alert
People are more likely to injure themselves or others when they are not alert, which makes alertness one of the most important things that you can have on the construction site. Work on establishing a schedule that allows people to have a normal workday, with regular breaks and time to recharge. Long days, or repetitive tasks with no breaks, make it easier for people to check out mentally. The less alert they are, the less aware they are of their surroundings and the people nearby. Encouraging them to stay alert helps them to avoid catastrophic errors with heavy equipment.

Take Training
You might have some sense of the best safety practices for the jobs you do in your contracting business, but you’ll probably need to take some training in order to get that knowledge. Safety practices change over time, particularly as new technologies change the way that you do certain tasks. Give yourself the opportunity to test your skills and refresh your understanding at least once a year. Offer the same service to your employees, especially those who are relatively new to the industry. Regular training sessions help to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Practice Safety Protocols
You might think that if you have the knowledge to do a task safely, that knowledge is enough to keep you out of trouble. Unfortunately, understanding what you read in a book or hear in an instructional setting doesn’t always translate into the correct actions. Some safety protocols require you to follow a very specific set of steps within a short period of time. If you have to go consult the instructions to know what to do, you may be too late. You can minimize wasted time by practicing the safety protocols with your team. Even if you all have the skills, a periodic refresh might be all you need to make it efficient and accurate.

Staying safe is one of the best things that you can do for your contracting business. For more guidance on becoming a licensed contractor, contact CSLS today!

Do You Need Good Credit to Start a Contracting Business?

These days, you need a credit report for lots of things. It’s not surprising that you may be expected to show your credit report when you want to apply for business financing and other things related to starting your company. There’s a difference between business credit and personal credit, and it’s important to keep them distinct. Here are a few things you should know before you start.

Keeping Business and Personal Finances Separate
Financial experts recommend that business owners do their best to keep their personal and business finances separate. There are several reasons for this, and establishing a different credit profile for the business is one of them. In the early years of your business, before you have established credit for the organization, you may occasionally have to rely on your personal credit for certain things. It’s tempting to use a better credit score to apply for personal loans or lines of credit that you can use for your business. But as your business grows, it will be harder to separate them. It’s better to do so from the beginning.

Repairing Personal Credit
You don’t necessarily have to rely on your personal credit in order to get your business running, but there are situations in which it would be good to have a better personal credit score. For example, when you go to establish a bank account for your business, they may check your credit. Business owners who have better credit scores may have more options in the kinds of accounts that they can open. One of the best things that you can do for the future of your business is to make sure that your personal credit report is accurate and as trouble-free as possible. Working to improve your personal credit might not help your business much, but it certainly won’t hurt.

Establishing a Business
Building a credit profile for your business usually starts by establishing a formal business. In most cases, if you want to apply for things like grants or funding, you’ll need to have a formal business with a license and a tax ID. You may be able to do things like open up a bank account or establish relationships with suppliers without it. But as a general rule, officially establishing your business makes it much easier to apply for loans, set up lines of credit, and more.

Applying for Business Credit
When you start applying for different types of credit for your business, it’s important to read the fine print. For new businesses, it is not uncommon for a credit card issuer or bank to require that you accept personal liability if your business is unable to make the payments. You may also see loans or other funding opportunities that do not require you to make that kind of promise. Be sure that you understand how each type of credit affects your business’s cash flow, as well.

Choosing Credit Options Wisely
When you first start a business, it’s tempting to think of credit as a great way to expand your business quickly without requiring you to save up a lot of capital. You should be careful about your use of credit, especially if your business income is unpredictable. Building a reliable credit history for your business starts by making wise decisions about when to use credit and when to look for other ways to fund your business expenses. That way, when you are ready to use credit in a way that benefits your business, you are more likely to have a report that appeals to lenders.

Credit reports and scores aren’t just for individuals. Your business will have them too. For more guidance on what you’ll need to start a contracting business, visit CSLS today!

5 Reasons Your Contracting Business Should Take Incident Investigations Seriously

On occasion, something bad will happen during a project. Afterward, you may consider investigating the incident. People often hesitate to evaluate a situation, to determine if they could or should have acted differently to avoid an accident. They may be afraid of taking responsibility. Investigations are important, however, because they help you prevent the same thing from happening again. Here are five reasons to perform an investigation after each incident you encounter.

Get the Facts
Right after an incident or near miss is the best time to sit down and think through the actions that led to the problem. Once people get a week or two past the fact, they may forget some details or crucial failures that triggered the incident. It’s important for business owners to take a collaborative approach, not a punitive one. In short, if you want to get all the information, you need to have everybody on the same page. Make sure that your employees understand that they won’t be punished for working with you to get more information because they’ll be more likely to come forward to report incidents that way.

Find Problems
As you go through the steps before, during, and after the incident, you may spot some obvious problems. In the moment, it can be really easy to get frustrated or start to point fingers at people who may have made mistakes. Instead, going through the incident investigation helps you to highlight anything that went wrong, as well as the effect that it caused. Sometimes the investigation brings up issues with your workflow that you didn’t even know you had. A lack of clarity on safety practices or industry standards could be relatively easy to correct, but only if you know that what you’re doing right now is insufficient.

Identify Causes
By this point, you’ll probably have a set of circumstances that can help you to identify the causes of the problem. If A led to B, which caused C, the investigation allows you to examine what made A and B more likely to happen. For example, a consistent under-use of PPE in certain high-risk tasks might prompt you to realize that you’re not storing the PPE in the right place. Making it easier to access could increase the rate of use, lowering the risk of injury. At this point, it’s good to brainstorm several possible causes for each failure.

Devise Solutions
If the investigation brings up a variety of causes of the incident, you can use that information to start coming up with solutions. It’s a good idea to get input from your workers, especially those who were related to the incident. They may have important context that you need in order to truly understand the problem and create a solution that is most likely to work. The investigation doesn’t always point to an obvious solution, which means that you may need to try out more than one. Having all the relevant facts will pave the way.

Avoid Future Concerns
Whenever you read about a serious accident in construction, you’ll probably notice that there were a lot of failures that happened before it turned into a catastrophe. If you want to avoid these kinds of problems, you have to be willing to challenge each failure as it happens. Sweeping it under the rug and hoping that it won’t be a problem only creates a culture in which workers are disincentivized to report unsafe behavior or problematic practices. If you invest the time to investigate it honestly from the beginning, you’ll be more likely to prevent the situation from happening again.

No one enjoys handling incidents, but the investigation can help you build a better contracting business. To learn more about the path to becoming a licensed contractor, visit CSLS today!

Want to Start a Contracting Business? Make a Five-Year Plan

Going from your first day in construction to starting your own contracting business takes at least a few years. You’ll spend some time on the job learning skills, more time refining your knowledge and choosing the right field for you, and the last bit getting ready to launch your own business. Here are a few things to consider as you make a five-year plan.

Evaluate Future Job Growth
To start out, you’ll want to pick a field that has growth potential that can sustain you for the length of your career plans. The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps data on the anticipated job growth for most industries and specific jobs within the construction industry. This means that you can do a little research to see where the jobs that you’re interested in doing are likely to go within the next 5 to 10 years. You’ll need to have this information to determine what your competition will be like and how much demand there will be for your services.

Select Ideal Working Locations
As you’re starting to browse through the careers you could have within your chosen fields, you’ll want to select locations that will be the most likely to meet your needs. As a licensed contractor, you will be able to work within the state where you get your license. This means that if you’re planning on moving out-of-state, you may need to consider how getting a license in that state will affect your plans. If you’re planning to stay in California, the good news is that you’ve got a lot of options, from the most rural to extremely urban.

Research On-the-Job and Educational Opportunities
Many people get their start in construction by working under a licensed contractor. You don’t necessarily need to take an educational route, but that’s also an option. Some fields have lengthy apprenticeship programs that you might apply for. Selected candidates can receive an income while they get a thorough, high-quality education within the field. These types of experiences can qualify for at least some of the experience you need in order to take the contractor licensing exam. Research what’s available to you in the area, and don’t hesitate to aim high. You don’t know what you may be able to achieve until you try.

Explore Different Fields
If you’re brand-new to construction, the choices you would make might be quite different then they would be for someone who’s been working in construction for several years. In either case, it’s important to explore different fields and careers you can have within those fields. Research what you can expect from various jobs, including:

  • Income
  • Demand
  • Work environment
  • Clientele

This will help you to make a choice you’re more likely to be content with by the time you get your license.

Keep Learning as You Grow
For most people, becoming a licensed contractor is a step they take on a career path that will continue to change for decades. This means that once you get started, you’ll keep adding onto your knowledge and experience. That can make you a better business owner and someone who is more likely to be able to meet the changing needs of clients in the future. Taking an ambitious, positive attitude about career development is an excellent way to start.

If you’re just starting out on your construction career path, you’ve got a few years to ensure that you do it right. To find out the benefits of becoming a licensed contractor, visit CSLS today!

5 Ways Your Contracting Business Can Stay Cool

Year after year of record-breaking hot weather might make you wonder if you’ll ever be able to stay cool on the construction site. If you spend most of your time outdoors, particularly if you live in hotter parts of California, lowering the temperature can be a matter of life and death. Try these tips to help you chill out and avoid the risk of heat-related sickness or injury.

Set Up Shades
The difference between working out in the hot sun and working in the shade is noticeable. If you were to measure the temperature of shaded concrete and compare it to the temperature of concrete after hours of baking sun, you would have a better understanding of what that heat can do to you. The good news is that there are lots of ways to set up a canopy or shade to provide you with a break from the sun. Pay attention to the shading that each option provides, as some shades and umbrellas offer little more than a sheer curtain’s worth of protection. If you’re working for hours outside, you may need something that can more effectively block the sun versus merely filtering it.

Use a Portable Mister
A mister can be an effective way to make the airfield cooler even while it’s hot. It’s a simple principle of evaporative cooling. If you spray cool water across the surface, the surface itself will cool as it evaporates. It won’t work as well in an area with high humidity, but if it’s somewhat dry outside, you’ll notice a beneficial difference. You can attach a mister to a hose if you have one. Otherwise, there are a variety of products on the market that use battery operated fans and a short hose that connects to a bucket full of water. That way, you could take the mister practically anywhere. Just make sure it won’t make your walking surface or handles slippery.

Stay Hydrated
When you start to get hot from the day or the work you’re doing, you’ll probably start to sweat. Sweat is the body‘s way of decreasing the temperature of the skin surface. You’re going to need to replace the liquid that you lose. Think about it a little like going to the gym. When you go to the gym, most experts recommend that you drink at least 8 ounces of water per 15 to 20 minutes of high-intensity activity. You should be drinking a similar amount if you’re doing heavy or hard work. And don’t forget about electrolytes. If you’re losing a lot of water, you may need to balance out your liquid intake with something that has some carbs and salt.

Take Cool Breaks
It would be nice if you could do all your work inside an air-conditioned space, or during the cooler hours of the day or night. Unfortunately, that’s not always a possibility. If you can, try to set up a space that has access to cooler temperatures. You might need to purchase a portable air conditioner, or plan to use your vehicle if necessary. The ability to take a snack or lunch break in a conditioned space might make the difference between a healthy workday and the risk of heat exhaustion.

Wear Protective Clothing
When you’re working outside in high heat, it’s tempting to try to thin out your clothing and protective gear to help keep you cooler. But if you take a tip from people who live in parts of the world that are consistently hot, you’ll notice that they often wear more clothing than most Californians do in summer. There’s a good reason for it. Wearing light-colored, lightweight fabrics can protect you from excessive sunburn, thereby lowering your risk of developing cancer. Choose a material that can wick moisture away, so you feel drier even though you’re wearing a hat, long-sleeved shirt, and pants. Invest in a few good pairs of socks that will do the same. You’ll feel better throughout the day that way.

The best way to stay cool on the construction site involves having a plan in advance. For more information about what you’ll need to run a contracting business, visit CSLS today!

5 Snacks Your Contracting Business Needs on the Construction Site

When you’re working on the construction site, you might be burning a lot of energy that you’ll need to replace throughout the day. Eating the right snacks can mean the difference between having the momentum to finish the task, and needing to stop early. When you bring these five foods to the table, you’ll be better prepared to get through the day.

In the past several years, nutrition experts have come around to the benefits of eating nuts as a snack. As a general rule, a serving of nuts may be higher in calories and fat than other types of snacks. However, when you’re working long hours and burning a lot of calories, you need to replenish your reserves without having to eat constantly. Nuts are nutrient dense and full of protein, which can help you keep up your energy throughout the day. If you find that you’re starting to feel sluggish a couple of hours after lunch, a handful of nuts might be just what you need to keep going.

Like nuts, cheese has occasionally been maligned as a high-calorie, high-fat food. On the other hand, it’s rich in calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients. It’s also got a ton of protein and can help bulk up a snack that feels too light. Cheese is great to add to your breakfast, or in a midmorning snack. Some cheeses can stay good outside the fridge for periods of time, so you don’t have to worry about bringing a cooler. If you find that softer cheeses don’t always sit as well with you, which is common for a lot of adults, look for an aged cheese like Gouda or Parmesan.

Fruit and Vegetables
These days, it seems like everybody is looking for ways to cut out the carbs. But without access to some necessary sugars and starches, you might find that you don’t get the energy boost to help you keep up momentum. Fruit and vegetables can be an excellent way to work toward your vitamin requirements and add a little extra brightness and flavor to your snack. The good thing about fruit is that you can often bring a serving without having to prepare it. Apples, oranges, bananas or berries may only need a quick wash before you eat them. Just make sure that you don’t overload yourself with fiber all at once, or you’ll be feeling it later.

Whole Grains
When people talk about carbohydrates, they’re usually talking about simple carbs and how they can cause you to burn out too quickly. Whole grains are a completely different thing. Foods like oatmeal contain complex carbohydrates, which take longer to digest and can make you feel full longer. If you’re noticing that you’re ready for lunch only an hour or two into your day, you might try adding a bowl of oatmeal or a couple of slices of whole-grain toast to your breakfast. They can provide a longer stream of energy for you without making you feel empty shortly after.

Eggs are a great addition to any meal. They pack a lot of fat and protein into a small package. You can eat several at once, or add one or two boiled eggs to a snack of nuts and some fruit. If you’re trying to find a way to fit more protein into your diet, eggs are great because they don’t make you feel too full for the rest of the meal. But their nutritional makeup means that they take longer to digest, so you’ll be more likely to feel satisfied longer. Boiled eggs are incredibly handy, but you’ll have to store them in a cooler and protect them from getting smashed.

Finding the right snacks to take to the construction site can help you have a better day as the owner of a contracting business. To learn more about what you need to do well in construction, visit CSLS today!

Is Your Contracting Business Wasting Water?

These days, California seems to be in a persistent state of drought. And whether or not you can feel it personally, you know that water is a finite resource. Although you’ll need to use it on occasion at the construction site, it’s important that you only use what you need. Here are a few tips to make sure you can minimize wasted water.

Contain Loose Debris
A significant portion of the water used on a construction site relates to containment of dust particles. In short, if your site has loose materials that are blowing all over the place, it’s pretty easy to use a hose and a brush to clean them up. Of course, it’s even easier to keep them from blowing everywhere in the first place. Purchase different types of covers, and learn how to tie them down in case of wind or rain. You’ll have less to clean up, and minimize your water use that way. It’s also a good practice for minimizing the environmental impact of construction.

Clean as You Go
Are your construction tasks generating a lot of debris on the construction site? Don’t wait until they start to pile up to take care of them. A dusty, dirty workspace increases the likelihood of injury. If you get in the habit of sweeping up after each task is done, you’ll be less likely to want to hose it all down at the end of the day. To make it easier, ensure that the proper cleaning equipment is within reasonable reach of the workstation. And be sure to build in extra time for cleanup of each task, so that you don’t feel like you have to rush.

Pay Attention to Plumbing
On the construction site, you’re not just worried about the water that you use. You should also be concerned about the water you might lose by accident. On a jobsite with existing construction, you run the risk of hitting a plumbing line that can cause significant leaks. Failing to identify or contain those leaks can lead to thousands of gallons of water lost every day until it is fixed. Before you start work, be sure to get a layout of underground lines for water, gas and other utilities. You can avoid a lot of hassle having to arrange for emergency repairs with a little advance preparation.

Invest in Efficient Hoses
At times, there is no replacement for water. In that case, you should try to be as efficient as you can. For example, there are hoses and attachments that make it easy to adjust the quantity of the spray. That way, you can get the precise amount of power from the water without wasting extra gallons. Every month or two, be sure to inspect your hoses and faucets for signs of leaks, kinks or damage. Replacing the hose might save you hassle as much as it saves you water.

Collect and Reuse
If you wash your car by hand at home, you probably pass off the water you use as beneficial to your lawn. On the construction site, excess water seeping into the ground isn’t necessarily a good thing. If you have the option, it may make sense to collect the water you use for certain jobs and reuse it for other tasks. Sometimes you need clean, fresh water for a job. Other times, any water that isn’t toxic will do. And if you’re using harsh chemicals, it’s often better to collect the water you use on the construction site than to let it flow downward into the gutter.

Controlling your water consumption is an important part of running a contracting business in California. To learn more about how you can get started, visit CSLS today!