The hot Utah summer is upon us, and for contractors who regularly work outside in the elements, there are a few different tactics considered to limit the impact of extreme heat on both employees and jobsites. One such tactic, which may or may not be a consideration for your contracting business depending on several factors, is scheduling certain jobs or operations for the evening or even the middle of the night, avoiding the sun altogether in some cases.
At Contractor’s School, we’re here to not only offer a variety of contractor’s class and license test services, but also to assist those who already have thriving contracting businesses in place. We help with everything from managing your qualifier to upgrading your license and much more, and we’ll also offer expertise on day-to-day operations areas you might have questions about if you’re just getting started. Are you considering moving certain summer operations to night hours, but unsure which variables and factors you should be thinking about while making this decision? Here are several important elements to go over, both personally and with any employees of your business.
As we just noted, one of the single most important areas here for any contracting business that has multiple employees is canvassing these employees. You might be perfectly comfortable switching job hours around somewhat, but there’s no guarantee that all your employees are, and you can’t move forward without them.
Generally, we recommend beginning with a broad meeting or memo to employees about the changes you’re considering. Propose a few different ideas and get feedback from your employees on what might work best for them. Ask about any concerns employees have about working at night, then look for ways to solve these prospective issues where possible. While it’s not reasonable to expect your employees to uproot their lives and sleep schedules to meet your timelines, if you’re reasonable and work with them while giving plenty of advanced notice, you’ll usually be able to arrive at a workable setup for everyone.
In addition to your employees and their schedules, it’s also important to consider the actual project in question and what’s needed to complete it. Broadly speaking, you’ll want to evaluate the full scope of the project and roughly how many work shifts you will need to make that happen – from there, you can do some basic math to determine how many shifts a day are required, plus combine this information with employee schedules to lay things out entirely.
As you do this, be sure to factor in other time consumers as well. These include inspections of the jobsite (in some cases), meetings with the client, brainstorming sessions with sub-contractors or a few others. The goal here is to ensure you aren’t putting yourself into a situation where you’ll be on-site for too many hours, particularly in the hot sun – the better you grasp the full obligations of the project, the easier this will be.
If you’ve decided to move forward with certain night operations on some job sites, the first and most vital step to take here is ensuring the safety of everyone on the site at all times. Injuries are simply more likely at night, with risks like falls or equipment operation mistakes higher when visibility is lower.
The first big safety measure here is adequate lighting, which should be present on all areas of the site. In addition, all employees working on the site should wear reflective safety gear that shows any vehicles or passers-by that they’re present. And of course, all the same basic safety equipment that’s required during a daytime job will also be needed here: Helmets, gloves, eye shields and several other potential pieces, depending on the specific jobsite and machinery being used.
In addition, many nighttime contractors ensure all employees have personal lights. These are usually head lamps, attached to the helmet, allowing for easy movement and constant light on any area being viewed.
Directly related to employee input you should have already received is your scheduling format if you plan to move forward with night work during the summer. It’s best to keep things as standardized and predictable as you can manage here, though obviously your ability to do this will depend on the specifics of the job and when your employees are available.
If you can, try to schedule employees for similar hours within the day. If you know a given employee will have to do three night shifts in a given week, for instance, try to make them all at the same time so the employee can standardize their sleep and other parts of their schedule. Not only will this make your employees more content knowing you’re thinking of them, it will also reduce their risk of injury due to overuse or related concerns.
Finally, it’s important to ensure you’re adhering to any local or state guidelines when it comes to light and noise for nighttime projects. If you’re working in a residential area, in particular, there might be certain kinds of equipment that can’t be used, or certain activities that are off-limits during evening hours. Failure to adhere to these rules may result in fines or even your site being shut down, so you should be careful about your research and approach here.
For more on contractors moving certain summer work to night hours, or to learn about any of our contractors license classes or how to start a contractor business, speak to the staff at Contractor’s School today.