One of the questions I often ask contractors is, “What keeps you up at night?” Over the years the answers have changed a little, but the core challenges that trouble many of the contractors I speak with are the economy, increasing profitability, finding and keeping good employees, maintaining a safe work site, and increased regulations.
I suspect these issues are the most troubling for contractors because one person cannot control them. Some of these challenges require a team effort, like profitability, employee retention and work site safety. And the economy is simply an uncontrollable beast. I think increasing regulations might be the most frustrating challenge for contractors. Regulations are always changing, always requiring more paperwork, and even though they are often put there for safety and health reasons, they usually make it harder for business owners to do their jobs.
Here is some information about a few regulation changes I’ve been tracking and links where you can find more information about them.
Revised Hazard Communication Standard. OSHA recently updated its Hazard Communication Standard, aligning it with the United Nations’ global chemical labeling system. Contractors must train their employees on the new pictograms and safety data sheet format by Dec. 1, 2013.
Temporary workers and workplace hazards. OSHA recently directed its field workers to put greater emphasis on assessing whether employers who use temporary workers provided required safety and health training to those temporary workers, in a language they can understand. (In this scope, OSHA defines “temporary worker” as workers supplied to a host employer and paid by a staffing agency.) This move was spurred by some staggering statistics: falls to lower level accounted for 31 percent of fatal work injuries involving temporary workers, and 13 percent resulted from pedestrian vehicular incidents. Nationally, temporary workers accounted for 12 percent of all fatal work injuries.
Health care reform. The Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, call it what you will; whether you like it or not, it is taking effect Jan. 1, 2014. The June/July issue of Concrete Contractor will include an article by Legal Matters columnist Dave Whitlock on this very topic. Look for it in your inbox in late June.
I welcome you to call or email me with comments and information about the greatest challenges you face as a business owner — regulations, profit margins, shortage of hard-working employees? We want to cover those topics in the magazine, and hopefully help you sleep better at night.