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How To Make The Ladder Of Opportunity Happen At Your Business

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Apr 11,2013 @ 06:00 AM

How To Make The Ladder Of Opportunity Happen At Your Construction Business

Note: This is the last article of a 3 article series on this topic (Click for article #1 or for article #2)

Turnkey business model for contractors 

Let’s use the example of creating a “Turnkey Business”

If you want a turnkey operation, which is one that runs without the need of the owner’s participation, the employees need to be self-motivated rather than motivated by the owner, their manager or short term measured motivation programs. Even if turnkey is not part of your vision, a single owner can’t wear all the hats of a continuously growing company. Vacations, health, and emergencies will at some point require the owner to delegate responsibilities to key employees.


Learn the “whys”

Employee motivationsThe best way to find out what will motivate team members is to ask them. While interviewing recruits or existing employees, find out not only what motivates them to grow, but also why. Connecting the “why” to the “what” can help get you, your business and that employee to where everyone wants to be much faster for two reasons.

  1. The first is the simple fact that adults choose to commit and follow through on their goals for their own, sometime selfish, reasons.
  2. Second, if the business, the marketplace or life changes at some point, knowing the why can help us find alternate ways to accomplish the long term company vision while still maintaining motivation.


Managing employee growth requires scheduled reviews

To help facilitate success support employee career advancement planning and implementation with a structured employee review process.  Be sure your review process identifies where the employee is today, where he or she is headed, and where you both expect them to be along their career path by the next scheduled review meeting. 


Generating a vision for where they will be is not enough

Career paths in construction


Work with the employee to identify the plan required to get there.  Include what the employee needs to do, as well as the company’s commitment and the necessary steps to help make it happen. 

Implementing a ladder of opportunity may require that the employee train and mentor his or her replacement.  Be sure the company provides "training of the trainer” early in each employee’s career path.  Education then becomes part of the company culture and facilitates constant growth among workers. 


Write down and maintain records of the employee review process.

Cosntruction employee performance reviewInclude in your record keeping not only the reviewer’s comments, but employee’s feedback about how well the company helps him or her to get there.  If your process includes writing down what has been agreed to at this review, both the company and the employee will know what to do between now and the next review.  You will also both know what you will be discussing at the next review.  This helps minimize the typical fears experienced by both the reviewer and the employee when anticipating the next review meeting and what they should talk about during the next review. 

If the review process is well thought out, properly documented and followed throughout each employee’s career, you have created a ladder of opportunity!


Related articles:

Article #1 of this series: Successfully Grow Your Business By Creating a Ladder of Opportunity For Employees

Article #2 of this series: How To Create A Ladder Of Opportunity For Your Employees

Government to Contractors: Start Hiring Convicted Felons!

Mentor Me, Please - Gen Y Business Owner Offers Peers Advise

Contractors: How To Work With Generation Y From One Of Them

Gen Y Member's Advice To Peers: How To Develop A Good Work Ethic


Topics: Hiring and Firing, Success Strategies, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Recruting, Team Building, Employee Advancement, Business Growth

How To Create A Ladder Of Opportunity For Your Employees

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Apr 07,2013 @ 06:00 AM

How To Create A Ladder Of Opportunity For Your Employees

Note: This is the second article of a 3 article series on this topic (Click for article #1)

Look ahead to where you want to be

Ladder of Opportunity


Creating a ladder of opportunity requires that you create a vision for where you want your business to go and how you will make it happen.  It also requires that you sell the vision to existing and recruited employees. Help them see the vision and growth plans of the company so they can see where they have opportunities to fit in and contribute to the growth as well as, at the same time, accomplish their own personal goals.

The Ladder of Opportunity strategy requires that you develop a career planning strategy based on a deliberate balance between how the company needs to grow and how employees envision their roles. For example, a designer who possesses previous field and production management experience will likely generate designs that are easier, more efficient and cost effective to build. Projects designed using such experience are also more likely to be consistently profitable.


Hiring the right employeesGrow or get out of the way

If qualified employees do not see themselves as part of the evolution, you must either decide to keep them in their current roles, if possible, and/or realize that you will eventually need to hire someone else to fill future positions as the business grows. Be sure to seek out and retain the right people on your bus and take the wrong people off of the bus. Tolerating poor performance from some employees may give the wrong message to the more motivated workers.  

For smart employees, climbing the ladder of opportunity in a growing business means that someone else may be on that ladder rising right behind them.  Aspiring and high performance employees may become frustrated and lose motivation if they are held back in their career paths due any inability to climb the ladder of opportunity.  This being the case be watchful for the employee who tries to sabotage or hold other employees back as a way to maintain their status.


Managing career paths

Establishing employee career paths that benefit the business requires that you create a plan to Design/Build both the business and its employees. Decide where you want to take your business, what employee skills are needed to get there and how you will incorporate those abilities into your team’s existing pool of strengths.

Employee carreer pathsTo help manage the process of building employee skills, avoid mutual mystification. Clearly detail your vision and sell the goals involved to your team members.  Ask for a commitment for this required growth, both personal and professional, from each team member. Ask them how they see themselves fitting into this vision. Employees can choose to grow with the company, or, to be fair, perhaps they should be told that the company will out-grow them.


Be proactive with job descriptions

As an added caution, be careful not to develop job descriptions based on who you already have on the team. This would be like Design/Building a project for a client by only using the left over and miss-ordered materials that are collecting dust in your warehouse. How could you fulfill the purpose of the client’s project if you limit the design in such a way? Instead, Design/Build your business by creating job descriptions specific to your company’s vision and the path required to achieve it. 

Construction company job descriptionsIf you are the business owner, create job descriptions for employees who will complement the skills you bring to the business.  This helps you to concentrate on what you are best at and/or prefer to do yourself.  If you plan to eventually give up certain responsibilities, keep an eye out for your replacement and include mentoring as part of that person’s career path.  Mentoring helps socialize the employee into the nuances of the already established norms and values of both the job position and the company.

Watch for the follow up to this blog (article 3 of 3) which will be titled "How To Make The Ladder Of Opportunity Happen"


Related articles:

Article #1 of this series: Successfully Grow Your Business By Creating a Ladder of Opportunity For Employees

Article #3 of this series: How To Make The Ladder Of Opportunity Happen At Your Construction Business

Government to Contractors: Start Hiring Convicted Felons!

Mentor Me, Please - Gen Y Business Owner Offers Peers Advise

Contractors: How To Work With Generation Y From One Of Them

Gen Y Member's Advice To Peers: How To Develop A Good Work Ethic


Topics: Success Strategies, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Recruting, Team Building, Employee Advancement, Business Growth, Culture, Leadership

Grow Your Business By Creating a Ladder of Opportunity For Employees

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Apr 04,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Successfully Grow Your Business By Creating a Ladder of Opportunity For Employees

Ladder of opportunity for employees

Note: This is the first of a 3 article series on this topic

It has been my observation that the most successful construction businesses are the ones that plan for and achieve consistent growth. This growth is measured in two ways that go hand in hand.  The first, and probably the most obvious, is growth in revenue.  The second, and most important, is the growth of the employees who comprise the team.  These two forms of growth go hand in hand because without employees to manage and complete the work, you cannot increase your revenues. Another important consideration is that growth will be pointless unless you maintain profitability.  Adding quality employees helps you to maintain and boost your financial success.

You can jeopardize consistent growth by constantly replacing employees or forcing new hires into management positions. The fact is that as a business expands, you will need additional employees and skills to maintain the growth. Employee retention and improving upon their skills are easier and quicker ways to grow. Creating a ladder of professional and career opportunities for your employees helps facilitate a long-term design strategy for your business.  The ladder of opportunity is created by moving employees forward into new positions and bringing on new team members to fill the positions they leave vacant.  You maintain the ladder of opportunity by helping new hires to grow in this same way.

Reasons for using a "Ladder of Opportunity"

Evolution Vs. Revolution?

Business growth strategies for contractorsIt’s not easy to replace employees as they leave your team or to bring on new hires that possess the necessary skills to ensure your business grows. Doing so also delays the rate at which you your construction business can grow.  You need to also consider whether you feel it is really fair to existing employees if you don’t give them the opportunity to move up within the company. If you are not developing employees as the company grows, you will eventually face a revolution, rather than an evolution.  If this happens, you may be forced to replace these employees with others who already have the skills the growing business needs.  This approach can be very risky and expensive.


Offering a ladder of opportunity helps keep good employees. 

Career path for a carpenterI always found that great employees are far more motivated by opportunity, responsibility, accomplishment and a sense of personal fulfillment than by the use of short-term incentives, such as cost of living wage increases, one-time bonuses, or an occasional pep rally. The right strategy, as long as it is sensitive and relative to the career path of your employees, will help keep those employees on the team.  It can also steer your company in the direction of recognizing who can move up the ladder and how to train them to ensure that your business evolves. The effects of such strategies are longer lasting and often permanent for the business and its employees.  Additionally, this strategy works well because existing employees are familiar with your company’s systems. They already fit into the culture and know how and why you do business the way you do.  It will take longer for new employees to learn about your culture, adapt, adjust and become productive dedicated members of your team.  Having employees start their career paths at the bottom of the ladder affords the business owner the advantage of limiting the expense and risks if the employees do not fit in or decide to leave the business.

Read the follow up to this blog (article 2 of 3) titled “How To Create A Ladder Of Opportunity For Your Employees”

Related articles:

Government to Contractors: Start Hiring Convicted Felons!

Mentor Me, Please - Gen Y Business Owner Offers Peers Advise

Contractors: How To Work With Generation Y From One Of Them

Gen Y Member's Advice To Peers: How To Develop A Good Work Ethic


Topics: Hiring and Firing, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Recruting, Employee Advancement, Business Growth, Culture, Business Planning

Help For LBM Dealers Planning Contractor Education Events

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Apr 02,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Free Webinar: Help For LBM Dealers Planning Contractor Education Events

One big win-win for building material dealers and their contractor customers is offering contractor education.  By helping contractors improve their businesses, and advance the trade skills of their employees, contractors can do more business and improve profitability.   If the contractor can increase the amount of business he or she does, the supplier benefits as well because that contractor will likely need to buy more products and services from the dealer.  Helping contractors grow their business is also a great way for LBM dealers to initiate and expand upon the creation of mutually beneficial relationships with their contractor customers.

Planning a contractor Training Event

For suppliers and manufacturers, planning a successful educational event for contractors takes a lot of work and time.   Many factors go into planning, promoting and executing an event that will provide value for the attendees, the dealer as well as any event sponsors.  However, if planned and executed correctly, educational events for contractors will not only attract attendees for the first time, the events should also make attendees want to keep coming back for more!

planning a training event for contractors

If you are a LBM dealer thinking about holding your first educational event, or want to improve results at your next event, consider attending an upcoming webinar I will be presenting on April 11th, 2013 titled “Planning and Delivering Educational Events to Maximize Your ROI”  The webinar will be hosted by BuilderLink.

 Click here now to register for the webinar

Webinar for LBM Dealers


If you are a contractor looking to encourage educational events at your lumberyard or supplier, consider forwarding this article to them.  By attending the webinar dealers and their staff can learn how to plan a great event, choose topics and speakers that will help you grow your business, and make sure the event will be fun and entertaining to attend.


Here’s a partial list of how attendees will benefit by attending this webinar

  • Learn some creative ways to promote the event, attract contractor attendees and get them to show up!
  • We will explore seminar topic ideas that can be beneficial and profitable for the contractors as well as the dealer.
  • Learn several very important things to consider before choosing a presenter/speaker.
  • Learn several ways to maximize the investment for the dealer and sponsor(s); before, during and after the event.


Speaker for contractor education event

Other LBM Dealer Related Articles:

Lumberyard Ambassadors - Partnering With A Lumber Dealer’s Yard Staff

Understanding and Selling the Many Shades of Green



Topics: Remodeler Education, Contractor Training, Working with Vendors, LBM Dealer Topics, Success Strategies, Worker Training, Differentiating your Business

Contractors: How To Work With Generation Y From One Of Them

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Feb 17,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Mark Brown


Guest Blogger: Mark Brown is a student at BYU-Idaho where he studies Construction Management. He currently lives in Spokane, WA, working as a carpenter and studying online while his wife finishes her Bachelor’s degree in nursing. This article is a shortened version of an essay titled “Is Generation Y learning how to learn?” written by Mark for a research writing class. It has been revised to help contractors working with Gen Y employees.


Advice For Contractors On How To Work With Generation Y From One Of Them

Generation Y in construction“Things just aren’t the way they used to be” is a lament often heard from aging generations. However nostalgic and skeptical this observation may be, it is definitely true. Generation Y (those born between 1980 and 2000) is growing up in a world completely different than their parents. Today we are surrounded throughout our waking hours by new technologies and devices that feed us steady and seemingly infinite flows of information, providing us with instant connection to knowledge that used to be much more difficult to acquire. Obviously, things are not the way they used to be. One can’t help but wonder; how do these changes affect our daily lives?  The way we work?  Our relationships with others?  The way we see ourselves?  How we learn?  

Contractors today face an especially daunting task trying to teach the business to a generation that learns completely different than the average hard-knocks PhD. Understanding these differences is essential to utilizing the huge talent Gen Y possesses and snuffing your own doubts of any hope for the future. 

The way Gen Y learns is fundamentally different than their parents.

Hiring Generation Y


They process information about ten times faster, they expect free and instant access to all this information, and they wonder what everyone else thinks about it all. Most have grown up learning on a computer from the time they were in grade school. Google is their main professor and they’ve learned to research as fast and efficient as possible. Capitalize on this. Gen Y can sail through tasks you find yourself poring over for hours like learning new scheduling software, Google Sketchup, or computer networking. They love to share what they’ve learned and can help you learn faster.



They can learn fast and perform consistently

Like a Southern California piece-work carpenter, Gen Y loves to have their work lined out and ready to tackle. This may be frustrating to those who value someone who can see what needs to be done and figure out how to do it, but think of the value of someone who can learn fast and perform consistently. Gen Y is also extremely adaptable, so they can learn how to be the leader who takes charge. They just need a better reason than, “Because that’s how it’s done you idiot!”

Can, will you give them what they want?

Contractors hiring generation YGen Y has often been accused of wanting everything right now that their parents spent 25 years earning. However fair the accusation may be, it definitely reveals something about Gen Y. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more ambitious bunch. If they know that you can give them something they really want, they will follow whatever path you draw for them to get it. You can build them in ways that you never could with a burnt out 50 year old carpenter who’s been swinging a hammer the same way since he was 18.

The construction industry has seen some dismal days as of lately and those who have spent nearly a lifetime in it may not wish others the same. But, I hope they can see the promise that exists in the younger generation and take some time to be coaches and mentors to those who are ready and more than capable of taking the industry to the next level.


Topics: Hiring and Firing, Success Strategies, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Recruting, Mentoring/Coaching, Guest Blogs, Opinions from Contractors, Generation Y

Carpenters Should Read This Before They Interview For Their Next Job

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Feb 14,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Carpenters Should Read This Before They Interview For Their Next Job

career opportunities for carpenters


If you’re a carpenter looking for a better job and career opportunity you might want to consider a lot more than just compensation before you decide which remodeling or construction business you will work for.  Sure, what you get paid is important.  However, considering how much money you will make over the course of your entire career might make far more sense than only considering how much you will get paid next week.

At the Providence RI JLC Live Show coming up in March I will be presenting a seminar titledA Call to Action and an Opportunity for Carpenters and Business Owners” on Saturday morning March 23rd from 7-8:30 AM.   At the seminar I will be sharing some strategies carpenters can use to help them if they would like to improve their careers and compensation.  This same information can be used by business owners if they want to attract and keep quality carpenters for their production teams.

how to make more money as a carpenter Below is a list of some of the considerations an aspiring carpenter might want to use when searching and interviewing for a new job and career opportunity.  As part of my presentation I’ll be reviewing and discussing this list at the seminar.  My hope is that by discussing these considerations attendees can determine whether they are working at the right company already, whether they should consider looking for a new company to work for, and how to evaluate the businesses they interview with.


Topics to be discussed at the JLC LIVE Seminar

The Company You Keep: Financial Considerations

    • career opportunities as a carpenterDoes the business have a financial budget for the year?
    • Can and does the business run budget to actual reports to track progress?
    • Does the business have a formal estimating system and method?
    • Does the business share the estimate with field staff?
    • Does the business do job costing on a consistent basis?
    • Does the business share job costing info with field staff?


The Company You Keep: Company Structure Considerations

    • Carpenter careersDoes the business have an organizational chart you can look at?
    • Do they have a growth plan and organizational charts to show future staffing needs?
    • Do they have and will they share written job descriptions?
    • Do they use a production manager driven or lead carpenter driven production system?
    • Does the business have a place of business?
    • Does the business operate legally?


The Company You Keep: Opportunity for Advancement

    • Carpenter trainingDoes the business plan to advance employees as it grows or hire to fill future positions?
    • Has the business defined career paths for employees, in writing?
    • Do job descriptions include educational requirements and or expectations?
    • Does the business have an adequate budget for employee education?
    • Does the business have a formal and scheduled review process?
    • Does the business have an objective method for establishing compensation rates?


The Company You Keep: Current Leadership

    • JLC LIVE seminar with Shawn McCaddenWhat are the goals of the owner; Practice vs. growing business?
    • Is the owner a craftsman or business person?
    • Is middle management already in place?
    • Is the owner or manager “present” at the job interview?
    • Does the owner share financial information with employees?
    • Does the owner conduct him/herself in a professional manner?


Thinking about attending this JLC LIVE seminar with Shawn?

Below is the summary slide from my presentation.   In case you’re considering joining me that morning, the slide should help give you an understanding of what I’ll be discussing at the seminar.

Career options for carpenters


Other seminars Shawn will be presenting at JLC LIVE in Providence RI:

EPA RRP Certified Lead-Safe Renovator Training & Certification (Also covers MA and RI Certification)

Three Keys to Building a Profitable and Sustainable Business

Leadership Skills For The Lead Carpenter

Topics: Success Strategies, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Earning More Money, Mentoring/Coaching

Rebuilding Your Construction Business On Purpose in 2013

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Jan 27,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Rebuilding Your Construction Business On Purpose in 2013

Remodeler business plan


Most remodeling and construction business owners didn’t start with a plan for where their business would end up; they just ended up where their businesses took them.   As they did business the employees and subs who worked for them, the clients who bought from them and the project types they bought are often the factors that eventually defined the business and therefore defined who their target customer type and job types are today.  If you’re not happy with where your business ended up, and you had to downsize during the recession, your current position might just provide an opportunity to rethink how you move forward before the economy and your business picks up.  Here’s a path to consider if you want a different business going forward.  Reflect back on and take advantage of lessons learned in the past as you map out your plan.

First establish goals for your business.  

Make sure the goals support both your professional and personal ambitions.   If you want to work to live, rather than live to work, now is your opportunity to make the change happen.

Contractor business planYour goals must be measurable

Next, establish metrics by which you will measure whether your business is on the right track and is achieving those goals.   In your metrics include ways to measure things like financial health, quality of service, quality of work, company culture, when you will be ready for the next stage of growth and the related employee growth or advancement that needs to be achieved. 

Decide who you will need for employees

Remodeling business org chart


Now that you have a clear idea of your goals and have defined objective ways to measure whether you’re achieving them or not, you can develop organizational charts for each stage of growth as well as job descriptions and candidate profiles for the people you will need to hire and advance.   Rather than let who you hire define your business and the job descriptions for those people, you will this time be able to proactively define, seek out and better qualify the right employees for each job position you will need to fill as the business grows. 



Here are a few examples. 

If you want to use a lead carpenter system, hire field staff with both trade and management skills.  If you can’t find real lead carpenters with management skills (because in reality very few exist) find good carpenters with the cognitive abilities and desire to learn and use those skills.  Then, train them yourself or find someone else to properly train them.  Your lead carpenter job description will help define the training you will need to provide.   If you want managers who will lead employees rather than supervise them, make sure you include that consideration in the employee profiles you will use to complement your job descriptions and hiring decisions. 


Construction company business planPutting the pieces together

If you hire the wrong managers you will be compromising your ability to hire and keep the right employees to do the work.   If you have to compromise on who you hire to do the work they will not be able to live up to your metrics or you will have to lower the standards by which you measure their performance.   If you drop the bar on your metrics you will either have to accept that you will never achieve your business and personal goals, or you will have to drop the bar on those too.

One definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things but expect different results.  If you want 2013 to be the year you changed the direction and performance of your business, you would probably be insane not to consider the path described above.


Thinking about figuring all this out on your own? 

If you and your business have the ability, the time and the money to learn all this stuff on your own check out this list of Five Great Books for Remodeling Business Owners.


Rather work one-on-one with a coach to help you?

Contact Shawn to find out how he helps remodelers and other construction related businesses all over the country achieve the business and personal results they desire.  If you're not earning and keeping enough money for your retirement yet he can help you change things.


Topics: Starting a Business, Hiring and Firing, Success Strategies, Worker Training, Differentiating your Business, Lead Carpenter System, Business Planning, Leadership, Business Considerations

Considerations For Putting The Right Employee On The Right Job

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jan 24,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Interesting Considerations For Putting The Right Employee On The Right Job

Choosing the right lead carpenter



Just like business owners, all employees have their own strengths and weaknesses.  The key to efficiency and making money is recognizing these differences and putting employees in job positions and on tasks that they can be successful at.   One consideration is how employees learn.   As a business owner I came to discover that some employees are sequential learners while others are global learners.  How they learned new information and used it helped me decide who I should hire or not and ultimately what job positions and activities they should be assigned to.


Sequential Learners

Sequential LearnerSequential learners learn best when information is presented to them in logical step by step order.   By presenting information to them in the order tasks should be completed, they can see how one step prepares for the next and or how subsequent steps are dependent on the previous step.   These employees are typically successful at repetitive activities, even activities that require a high level of skill.  Examples could include install crown moldings or estimating projects that can be done using a unit cost method.  However sequential learners might not make for good lead carpenters at a business where every project is different and or projects are highly detailed.   A sequential learner lead carpenter may be challenged if the business does not provide adequate project specifications and facilitated planning opportunities before the project begins.  Also, a sequential learner might not have success selling Design/Build projects to prospects who are global learners.


Global Learners

Global learnerOn the other hand global learners can take in random bits of information about a project or task and can quickly connect the dots between that information to assess a situation or assemble a solution on their own by quickly understanding the connections between those bits of information.   These employees can be very successful at job positions like handyman repairs, troubleshooting roof leaks and or gathering information from Design/Build clients who know why they want to do a project but might not know yet how to get started or what needs to be considered.   Also consider these employees might quickly become bored with repetitive activities or duties.


Why care?

It is important to recognize that every successful remodeling business needs employees with complementary skills.  A team dominated by one or the other of these learning types would definitely run into challenges.   Learning how employees and recruiting candidates learn and process information can help you make better hiring decisions and help promote employee retention.  Having the right employees in the right job positions can also help free the business owner up from “in the trenches” involvement in the business so they can concentrate on big picture and high value opportunities.


Example of why you might need both learning types on staff and in the right positions

Right employee for the jobInstalling windows these days requires building science knowledge and an understanding of installation options regarding the methods and products that can be used.   A lead carpenter who is a global learner can be real good at understanding the science considerations and specifying appropriate installation details.   With those project specific details in hand a sequential learner carpenter can then be instructed by that lead carpenter, right at the jobsite, on how to install all the windows.   While the carpenter installs the windows the lead carpenter can be making the materials list for the next phase of the job so the materials will be ready for the carpenter when the carpenter is done installing the windows.  Unlike a production manager driven production system, because a lead carpenter driven system is being used, the global learner who specified the installation method is at the job site to oversee and if needed trouble shoot the efforts of the carpenter.  With a production manager driven system, after being instructed, the sequential learner carpenter might be on his own without anyone overseeing his or her activities to be sure the windows are being installed correctly. 


Right or wrong?

If you’re frustrated or disappointed with your current employees’ and or your production system’s performance you might have the wrong employees.  On the other hand you might have the right employees assigned to the wrong job duties.   Considering how they learn and process information might be the insight you need to get them and your business on the right track.  Let me know if I can help!

Topics: Hiring and Firing, Worker Training, Production Considerations, Lead Carpenter System, Business Considerations

OSHA Compliance Checklist: Will You Be Ready If OSHA Visits You?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Fri, May 25,2012 @ 09:00 AM

Compliance Checklist: Will You Be Ready If OSHA Visits Your Job Site?

OSHA Compliance for ConractorsRecently there has been a lot of buzz around the remodeling and home improvement industries regarding OSHA enforcement.   OSHA has definitely stepped up its focus on residential construction.   With the onset of summer weather much more work is being done outside making it easier for OSHA Inspectors to observe not only where work is happening but also easily observe and identify violations by only having to drive by construction sites.  Inspectors have been instructed; if you see it - make a visit.  One contractor even reported that an OSHA Inspector was driving around Cambridge MA on a bicycle!

OSHA requirements are not new, even though you might think so by reading some of the banter on sites like LinkedIn.  Significant OSHA enforcement within the residential construction industry has only recently been happening and has been getting a lot of press coverage.  As a result many contractors are only just now becoming aware that OSHA compliance and the related expenses to comply apply to them.    


When Does OSHA Apply?

OSHA complance for subcontractorsOSHA requirements do not apply if you are the business owner and only work alone.   However, OSHA requirements do apply when employees or other workers conduct work activities at your jobsite. So, if you are a general contractor, OSHA will hold you responsible for verifying OSHA compliance and overseeing the actions of your subcontractors while at your jobsites.   

Depending on the type of work you perform, specific OSHA compliance requirements will vary.   To simplify what you need to consider, just assume that no matter what they are doing, your business is responsible to protect the health and safety of all workers at your jobsite.  To protect your business and your employees, I suggest OSHA compliance oversight should be included in the job descriptions for lead carpenters, production managers and project managers.

Be Sure To Document Worker Training

OSHA Fall protectionBelow is short a list of things contractors should consider if they want to be ready when an OSHA Inspector drives by and or stops in to check out your job site.  This list comes from Mark Paskell of The Contractors Coaching Partnership.  Mark helps contractors and their employees comply with OSHA.  He offers group training classes as well as company specific training and assistance with compliance requirements including jobsite practices and the gamut of required documentation.  When I spoke to Mark about this topic he stressed that OSHA was concentrating heavily on worker training and protection from fall hazards, and that contractors needed to have written documentation of the training they provide.


OSHA Compliance Checklist for Contractors:

  • Keep your job site in a clean an orderly manner
  • If on roofs above a 4 pitch use anchor points, harnesses and lifelines
  • If you do not use harnesses use guard rails
  • When setting ladders make sure they are 3 feet above the roof edge and on stable ground
  • Don't use ladder jacks with ladders over 20 feet
  • If you use ladder jacks over 10 feet makes sure you are tied off from above
  • Wear hard hats and safety goggles
  • Make sure scaffolding is set properly with planking
  • Set ladders at the right angle
  • Don't climb scaffolding bracing
  • Don't use the top steps of your step ladders
  • Use ladders and step ladders only within the manufacturer's parameters 
  • Use guard rails on pump staging and do not forget the ends
  • Cover skylights in the work area
  • Always us guard rails on landings, stairs and ramps
  • Use guard rails across large openings on upper levels
  • Don't set ladders or staging within 10 feet of power lines


Topics: Worker Training, Production Considerations, OSHA Considerations, Subcontractor Considerations, Estimating Considerations