National Safety Month

Do you come face to face with hazards at your job? Do you commute to work? Is this the summer you finally build that new deck outside? Or, maybe you’re just looking forward to some outdoor activities with the family? Whatever the reason, there are dangers in all areas of our lives, and HB NEXT wants to raise awareness for National Safety Month.

National Safety Month is aimed at reducing the leading causes of injuries and fatalities in the workplace, on the road, and in our homes and communities. This month is a reminder that we all need to make safe decisions individually to protect ourselves and those we care about. The National Safety Council (NSC) has a different safety emphasis each week in the month of June as follows:

· Week 1: Hazard Recognition

· Week 2: Slips, Trips and Falls

· Week 3: Fatigue

· Week 4: Impairment

At HB NEXT, we pride ourselves on the value of a safe work environment. The #1 goal is always to make sure every employee gets home safe. We understand the severity of these risks, and we continuously strive to improve our safety/training programs to better prepare our workers.

HB NEXT would like to share our expertise in an effort to improve more workplaces than just our own. This is why HB NEXT is offering all companies a Complimentary Review of their safety manual during National Safety Month. To submit your manual for review, simply fill out the form and upload your manual HERE. Or, contact us and ask for a complimentary safety manual review.

GA NPDES Electronic Permit Submittal Requirements

The new Georgia NPDES General Construction Permits for Storm Water Discharge will become effective August 1, 2018.  While much of the permit remains the same, there are some important and major changes that will occur.  The one new requirement that will affect all permittees is the electronic submittal of all permits.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has developed an online portal for submitting NPDES permits (Notice of Intents, Notice of Terminations, and Storm Water Sampling Reports) to comply with the Federal EPA NPDES construction permit. The site can be found by  CLICKING HERE.

How does this affect you? All permittees will have to register with GEOS and set up and account as a Responsible Official (RO). This is regardless if you actually do the NPDES permit filing. If you contract with a consultant to the filing on your behalf, you can still use a consultant (or preparer) to do your filing. However, you will have to initiate the filing and notify your preparer that there is a permit ready to be completed and filed.

Not only does the GEOS system fulfill the EPA requirements, but also it makes filing permits faster and easier (no more certified mail, return receipts). Additionally, it also creates an online portal to search and find previously filed permits.

For more information, you can visit the following links:

Video tutorial: CLICK HERE

How to set up an Responsible Officer (RO) account: CLICK HERE

How to File an NOI: CLICK HERE

 

If you have further questions about permit filing or need assistance with NPDES / SWPPP Inspections, please call us or Contact Us through our website.

Tips on Construction Training Programs for a Skilled Workforce

By: Guest Contributor – “Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm” –  https://www.raphaelsonlaw.com/ 

A recent survey from the Associated General Contractors of America revealed that nearly 80 percent of construction businesses have a hard time finding qualified skilled labor. With the existing
skills gap between labor job openings and the talent needed to fill them, companies and general contractors often find themselves with two options, hire under-qualified workers or require their skilled workers to work longer hours. It goes without saying, both options can have serious repercussions, especially when it comes to job site safety.

While an emphasis on workforce development aims to bridge the talent gap, there are three ways construction companies can take action now to further develop their skilled workforce and competent employees.

Implement Personalized Training and Frequent Assessments to Improve Safety

Although you need to take continuous training as a serious issue, keep in mind that not all workers will be at the same level. This is the primary reason why you should consider personalized training programs and regular assessments that will help you understand and assess individual strengths and weaknesses. The primary objective of personalized training is to help each employee work on their weaknesses so that at the end of the process you have a highly productive and united team of employees. Additionally, such training will enhance safety at the construction site.

Provide Apprenticeship

Providing apprenticeships opportunities is a good way to train to prospective construction workers while getting labor from those individuals who are dedicated to learning. These programs are mostly used in crafts to provide the apprentice with more knowledge about career selections. Also, these programs help in teaching technical skills, ethics, and leadership to construction workers and can be used to assess the worker’s overall skill level.

Strive to Create Mutually Beneficial Relationships

This means that your training programs should aim to promote both the worker and the employer. Well thought out training programs will allow your construction workers to fit well in their work environment and become innovative while also reducing chances of an on-the-job accident that can cost time and money. They will strive to create a safe working environment that is challenging but achievable which will make them feel part of the company.

This creates job satisfaction which will make your construction workers comfortable which will make them stick around longer. Employers will also learn how to accomplish their tasks without committing mistakes and will know how to deal with the challenge of construction safety issues.

Why Conduct a Safety Orientation?

Working in the construction industry, safety is critical to ensuring your employees go home to their families. Workers move from jobsite to another and often times, they’ll miss a Safety Orientation Training. According to the National Safety Council, in 2013 approximately one-third of the nonfatal occupational injuries or illnesses which involved time away from work were suffered by workers with less than one year on the job. Nearly one-quarter of those cases resulted in the employee losing 31 days of work. HB NEXT Safety Expert Jon Lovejoy explains a few key components of conducting a Safety Orientation.

Q.  Why do Orientations?

A.  Once an owner/employer decides to invest in his/her company’s safety program, it becomes more valuable and effective when employees are given the opportunity to learn what is actually in it. Orientations explain what the company policies are, but they should also be used to allow employees to ask why…oh, and by the way, it kills two birds…it’s training – document it.

Q.  Any legal requirements?

A.  There’s no real legal requirement, but OSHA does provide guidance for developing safety programs in accordance with its regulations and standards. Safety Programs must provide employee involvement. From understanding their responsibilities, to knowing what the rules are, feeling empowered to help improve the program, the Orientation is a good place to begin employee involvement.

Q.  What does it do for the employer and employee?

A.  For the employer, they’ll get a better ‘acknowledgment’ from employees by having them sign off…reduces the “you never told me that” situations.  For the employee, they’ll learn things they can do – and need to do – to help protect themselves and the company…like inspection documents, training sign-ins, disciplinary documents.

Q.  How can automating an orientation help the employer?

A.  It’s easy to ‘implement’ a safety program for the entire company, all at once, if everyone can be brought in at one time…automation helps with consistent and cost-effective delivery in different locations, as well as with each new-hire.

Ask HB NEXT for your guidance for conducting your next Safety Orientation. Don’t miss the opportunity to engage with your employees and ensure they’ll return home safe after a day’s work. If you need assistance with creating or automating your Safety Orientation or creating your Safety Manual to have an orienation, please contact HB NEXT.

hb next workforce development

HB NEXT Congratulates Bermuda Graduates

HB NEXT would like to congratulate nine individuals from the country of Bermuda for successfully completing the HB NEXT seven-week NCCER Structural Steel Ironworker training program. Bermuda is experiencing a tremendous boom in their construction projects and has a work-force shortage of skilled and credentialed workers. Officials in Bermuda asked HB NEXT to train their citizens for careers in construction. Bermuda officials project 30% of those unemployed will be able to join this program. Now HB NEXT will expand their course offers and will begin working with the local university in Bermuda to provide entry-level training and skills. The program will expand to offer trade skills in areas such as drywall, carpentry, reinforcement steel and other essential construction specialties.

“With these credentials, HB NEXT has given us, now I think I’m in a better position to provide for my family and for that, I’m grateful,“ commented student Barry Walkes. Students attended class daily and trained receiving practical hands-on experience at jobsites in various areas ensuring they had a thorough understanding of the skills. “As we worked through it, I could see the confidence building every week. When they got here, they came in as nine individuals. Today, they leave as a team. They became a strong group over the course of seven weeks. They are going to do great things in the construction industry,” said Raymond Scott, Senior Instructor / Consultant.

HB NEXT is known nationally as the number one partner for compliance and construction support services. With over 200 years of experience, the teams at HB NEXT are experts in safety, environmental, training, software and utility services. HB NEXT has received awards for their metro Atlanta-based workforce development Construction Ready Program.

Contact HB NEXT for more information about their training services.

Staying Ahead of the Shrinking Workforce

Staying Ahead of the Regulatory Curve and the Role of Workforce Development in the Future of the Construction Industry

The construction industry’s growing shortage of skilled craft workers during the past two decades is well documented. While many studies indicate economic factors as the root cause of this issue, the decreasing availability of industry related workforce development such as high school and other craft/trade instruction programs, as well the stigma of not attaining a four-year college degree, have also played a major role. The growing problems with our secondary and higher education infrastructure are a completely different subject for later discussion.

The construction industry workforce development was born out of the necessity for companies to strategically plan for the replacement of their aging and retiring workforce. Traditionally, the journeymen taught the apprentice everything from the craft to what you needed to watch out for from a safety perspective. When the journeymen retired, the apprentice carried on the work and over time the cycle repeated. Most apprentices learned how to do their jobs not necessarily through the corporate safety manual or other corporate based education/training or regulatory code manuals. They learned in the same way their bosses did in the ‘good old days’ … they were mentored by the journeyman and eventually became a journeyman themselves.

Up until recently, construction companies’ requirements or failures for implementing occupational safety did not necessarily render the company or individual (financially) responsible to their federal or local government. Projects had to be executed quickly and often times the focus on workplace safety and/or other regulatory compliance took a backseat to increasing profits. As the growing consumer advocates and both federal and state governments drive massive expansion of the regulatory environment (from job related safety to financial reporting and tax) the complexion of the construction and other industries workforce compliance requirements have changed drastically.

Current construction projects must be profitable in order to sustain the industry and support growth across this nation. These companies must operate in an ever evolving and complex web of regulatory requirements under OSHA, the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, etc. Unfortunately, “higher education” institutions traditionally focus on the four-year degree programs geared towards business management, marketing, accounting and do not produce highly specialized and skilled workers that  the construction and other industries need to actually do “the work”. Workforce development through revamped high school or youth related programs (i.e.: SkillsUSA and CEFGA), as well as restructured technical college programs or private company education/training (i.e. NCCER based) are the only way to successfully replenish our retiring workforce. Fortunately, formal workforce development programs like those listed above are again emerging as the standard.

With increased regulatory/compliance enforcement, rapidly advancing construction related technologies and the rate of workforce retirement, the need for skilled craft workers is greater than it has ever been. The recent economic crisis that formally began in 2008 did not help as many skilled workers in construction were forced to find work elsewhere and have left the construction industry altogether. Uncertainty and doubt have exacerbated the development gap in skilled workers as young talent willing and able to assume future careers in construction have continued to rely on a college degree for “better” and more secure job opportunities. Many of these college graduates are beginning to see that some of their contemporaries who, for example, chose to become a welder under a corporate sponsored training program are not only easily able to find work, but they’re making significantly more per year than most college graduates. The welder is also not saddled with the average $60,000 in college loans that postgraduates now faces. With the expectation that the industry’s skilled workforce shortage will get worse before seeing tangible signs of improvement, companies should act now on “strengthening their bench” with a plan to stay ahead of an ever-changing regulatory curve.

So, how do you stay ahead of the curve?

Having a substantial pool of skilled, credentialed craft workers is mission critical to the longevity and success of the construction industry. This requires careful planning. Education, credentialing and compliance are among the chief weapons at a company’s disposal to combat an impending deficit of skilled craft workers in an industry that is both highly demanding and dangerous.

Here are some simple truths we must face.

  • Regulations require employers to reasonably educate, but also to continuously update their employees on all aspects of the activities in which they are expected to engage. Failure to comply with industry regulation is a very effective method for disposing of a company’s hard-earned profits.
  • Worker requirements in the construction industry are ever changing. With the advent of technology platforms such as ISNetworld, Owners and Contractors are now requiring proof of or certification based training for other qualifiers for specific job/project consideration. As a result, companies are now requiring credentialed craft and/or management training to qualify personnel for not only advancement opportunities within their own organizations, but also on job opportunities for those outside the organization. Credentialed training offers nationwide recognition and portability of acquired skills that many otherwise legitimate training courses cannot and historically, have not been able to provide.

On the surface, a successful formula for keeping ahead of the curve seems pretty simple since everything is clearly spelled out, right? … WRONG! Educating the workforce through credential based training, follows a sea of complex rules and regulations from OSHA, DOL, HHS, IRS, etc. Then, add the demands of meeting the budget in an economy that puts more and more pressure on profit margins, maintaining quality control and have absolutely no accidents on the jobsite is a daunting prospect!

Positioning your organization for success has become an uphill battle. To economically overcome these hurdles, workforce development must be carefully planned, highly organized and efficient from a time and cost perspective. When a company assumes the cost paying an employee to attend job-specific training, paying for that training and absorbing lost productivity of that employee as a result, there must be a benefit to recouping that “investment”. This is one of the main reasons why credentialing will play such an instrumental role in the way companies develop and retain their workers moving forward.

Innovations in construction based education and training are making it possible for companies to find and hire talented candidates from different age groups and with varied skill sets. These candidates are developed into productive members of the industry. Many credentialed can also be converted into college credits. Apprenticeship programs are also gaining popularity as they offer a blended approach of classroom instruction and practical application of learned skills and competencies. Earnings-conscious employers are realizing the long-term benefits of having their employees take a vested interest in their personal growth and marketability which these apprenticeship programs help to accomplish. Incidentally, apprenticeship programs can and should include credentialed curricula.

The threat of a prolonged workforce shortage is real but does not have to be reality. Given all this, there are several questions you need to ask yourself while preparing for the future.

  1. What is your plan for educating your employees in a changing industry?
  2. How will you keep your company profitable and in regular compliance with increased regulatory enforcement on the horizon?
  3. How will your company prepare for the expected drought of available skilled workers?

Answers to these questions are critical to your business survival during a potentially tumultuous period for the construction industry. Again, staying “ahead of the curve” requires advanced preparation/planning and a cogent strategy. The most important requirement is having an educated, compliant, continually developing and stable “bench”/workforce.

– Mark Hornbuckle

CEO, HB NEXT

What is NCCER?

NCCER is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) education foundation created in 1996 as The National Center for Construction Education and Research. It was developed with the support of more than 125 construction CEOs and various association and academic leaders who united to revolutionize training for the construction industry. Sharing the common goal of developing a safe and productive workforce, these companies created a standardized training and credentialing program for the industry. This progressive program has evolved into curricula for more than 70 craft areas and a complete series of more than 70 assessments offered in over 4,000 NCCER-accredited training and assessment locations across the United States.

How NCCER helps you

NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through the NCCER registry allowing organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. NCCER’s registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.

NCCER’s workforce development process of accreditation, instructor certification, standardized curriculum, registry, assessment and certification is a key component in the industry’s workforce development efforts. NCCER also drives multiple initiatives to enhance career development and recruitment efforts for the industry.

HB NEXT instructors are NCCER certified. Don’t risk your training to individuals who can’t deliver the best safety and compliance training programs to your crews.

Which Training Style Is Right For You?

HB NEXT is proud to offer two different training styles to accommodate your individual or company’s preferences and needs. All training is done in a face-to-face manner, in-person classes.

Benefits for Public Classes

  • Most popular courses are offered
  • Open enrollment class options from a posted class schedule
  • Great option for additional individual training
  • Cost effective for a few attendees

Benefits for Booking a Private Class

  • Small groups or large groups
  • Private classes may tailor a specific  subject matter towards your crew.
  • Client may pick date and location
  • Typically the price is lower (Classes are priced in groups up to 10, up to 15 etc.)

How does your company utilize a rainy day? Reserve rainy days for your employees to receive training. Ask HB NEXT for a list of classes that you may reserve.