Adjusting to the Change

Laura M. Porinchak / March 2015

It’s more than heated work wear and hot chocolate. I was talking with one of the winners of AWCI’s 2015 safety award, who will be revealed next month at the awards brunch being held during AWCI’s Convention, and he told me a few of the ways they’re handling the frigid temperatures and winter weather being seen by most of us in North America. Those of us who are lucky enough to experience all four seasons often forget how chilly it can get, and if you’re like me, you’re quite thankful to have a job that requires you to work indoors.
    
But those construction warriors in colder climes who are required to work outdoors in an unfinished building aren’t as lucky as I am. They face challenges I hadn’t thought about. I never considered that the gloves you’d wear to prevent frostbite might also prevent you from properly using a tool. So what do you do? Either you wear the gloves and do a poor job, or you do a good job with the gloves off but you are now at risk of hypothermia. Either way, you’re risking some kind injury or health issue.
    
Our safety award winner apparently considers everything; that’s why he’s a winner. One thing he will do is take his workers off a job where the structure isn’t enclosed if his area is experiencing a very cold snap that will last only a few days. He simply puts the crews on indoor jobs until the outdoor temperatures rise to a safer, more tolerable level.
    
To read about some of our readers’ cold-weather strategies, check out “Problem Solved” on page 56. (And please remember that we’re always looking for questions to ask our readers in “Problem Solved.” Send them to me at porinchak@awci.org, or send me a message via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.)

If you read between the lines, another item we learned from my conversation with the award-winning contractor is that he has more than one job going on. He has the option of sending people to another job, something that may not have been an option just a year or so ago. So be sure to read our feature on page 32 to find out how estimating strategies have changed or are changing now that work is coming back.
    
We interviewed several AWCI member contractors to learn how estimating isn’t what it used to be. Owner–general contractor–sub relationships changed when we were deep in a recession, and now that the recession is over, things are changing again. But how are they changing? Are we going back to the way we were (probably not), or are we embarking on new ways of doing business? Only time will tell, but for now, let’s focus on estimating.

Finally, this is our pre-convention issue that features exhibitor listings for most of the companies that will be displaying their wares at the Intex Expo (www.intexconstructionexpo.com), April 29–30 in Long Beach, Calif. You’ll definitely recognize a lot of names that are in the directory that starts on page 44 (all the big players in the industry attend), and you’re likely to spot several new ones, too. When I was writing this, both exhibitor and attendee registrations were quite high—another indication that the economy is turning in our favor. As the industry sets out to explore the new economy and everything that goes along with it, those who attend this show are positioning themselves to be at the forefront. Will you be among them? I hope so, and I look forward to seeing you there next month.