In honor of nearing 116 years since the original opening of the Panama Canal, we wanted to share our company’s tie to this historic project.
So, how is a construction software company connected to the Panama Canal?
The Panama Canal first opened as a 300 ft., one-way passage on August 15, 1904.
After World War II, increased commercial shipping volume made shipowners resort to larger vessels. This increase in demand and ship size caused 48-hour wait periods to pass through the canal.
After pressure from ship owners reached its peak, funding was raised to widen the canal to 500 ft.
Now, here’s where Oman Systems’ predecessor company, Oman Construction, comes in.
For the first time in history, outside contractors were selected to work on the canal. Oman Construction was awarded the contract for the final 8.3 miles of the Gaillard Cut. This section was the most dangerous part of the project because of the risk of landslides. This stretch of the canal also required workers to seamlessly complete the project alongside the daily ship traffic.
Not only did Oman Construction complete this dangerous part of the project without incident, but the company also wrapped up 19 months ahead of schedule.
Not to brag, but we don’t know many software companies who can boast connections to the Panama Canal as well as the Trans Alaska Pipeline, FDR’s swimming pool, and the largest earth-fill dam in the U.S.
A software company with a long line of construction history under our belt, that’s who we are.
Making the change from using Excel to a full-blown estimating software may seem like a daunting task.
After all, like many estimators, you likely have a fine-tuned process and developed your system after years of industry experience.
Not to mention, you have elaborate spreadsheets and years worth of pricing, labor, and historical data to consider.
So, with all this in mind, if you’re considering making the switch to an estimating system, here are some things you should know:
Eliminating Errors is Key
Even the most seasoned estimators know that when you’re working with spreadsheets, errors happen.
Consider this: have you ever had an extra row in your spreadsheet cause the totals to be incorrect? Item costs that did not get added to the bid? Forgotten to add a cost for an indirect or bond?
Now, what if I told you the chances of a miscalculation in a spreadsheet can be virtually eliminated?
ProEstimate.NET has built-in checks and balances as well as “Bid Check” functionality to limit the risk of such omissions. This improved accuracy reduces the time spent correcting bid errors and virtually eliminates mistakes.
You will also no longer need to worry about a file being accidentally deleted or moved to a different folder. All data is stored in one location where every user has shared access.
Error-free estimating has a pretty nice ring to it.
Standardization Improves Bid Accuracy
Speaking of eliminating errors, standardizing your estimating process also greatly reduces the chance of mistakes.
By using an estimating system, you can add structure to your project set-up, crew building, bid closeout, and more. This structure improves productivity, enhances profitability, and, again, reduces errors.
The standardization of reports within the system allows management to review an estimate in the same manner, every time, regardless of who put the estimate together.
Implementation Shouldn’t Be Painful
If you decide to make the switch to using an estimating system, the implementation process is an important part of getting started.
However, this process shouldn’t require an exorbitant amount of work on your part. Beware: some companies require you to fill out 15+ spreadsheets to get your system up and running.
In December, an entire night crew was struck by a drunk driver in Arlington, Virginia. This is one of many instances where workers were injured or killed by impaired drivers.
“The roads (…) are our office,” Jim Reed told WXYZ-TV Detroit after his colleague was hit by a drunk driver. “This is where our people work. Thousands of individuals from Michigan work on the roads every day. It’s important that we slow down and do the right thing.”
Safety shouldn’t be a fleeting luxury for our workers in the field. So, what can we do better?
Grab Distracted Drivers Attention
Distracted drivers are one of the biggest hazards for road crews. To get their attention, it is best to use multiple signals.
Use certified flaggers to slow down traffic and allow passage through one-lane areas. Signs should be in place to signal that there are flaggers and road work ahead.
Construction Executive states ”Directives, such as evacuation route, do not enter, reduced speed ahead, road closed, and no outlet, assist drivers entering work zones and construction sites.”
Require Daily Safety Chats
Accidents may seem like an inevitable part of construction work. However, workers should receive daily reminders to mitigate the risks that are in their control.
These steps include preventing falls, wearing proper safety gear, maintaining distance from rotating equipment/unguarded parts, and exercising extreme caution around utility lines.
This video is a safety meeting from the Manhattan Building company. This comes from the vertical side, but the tone and delivery are still on point for heavy highway/civil.
Foremen should always be watching for any safety hazards, correcting unsafe practices, and sharing daily toolbox talks with their supervisors.
Which brings me to my next point:
Document, Document, Document
So, you’re having daily safety chats to keep your crew members informed, but have you documented it?
Too many times when accidents happen, companies are caught scrambling for proof that they took necessary precautions. Without proper documentation, not only are you unable to save yourself from litigation, but you also can’t be sure you’re doing everything in your power to protect your employees.
To learn more about how you can easily create custom forms for field documentation, click here.
Eighty-three percent of Americans drive frequently, so we can all either be part of the problem or part of the solution.
If you have the tools to reach an audience (no matter how small) take the time to share the statistics in this post.
Make an effort to remind people to slow down by adding a human element behind the “Caution Road Work Ahead” signs.
These are our fellow industry professionals, and they deserve to go to work and feel as safe as I do sitting at my desk. Maybe that isn’t entirely realistic, but we could all use a reminder to drive more carefully.
If you have an industry event you’d like us to sponsor, or you are planning on attending any of these events, we want to hear from you! Let us know via the Live Chat, ContactUs@Omanco.com, or by calling 1-800-541-0803.
Summer is practically here, and most of us are already feeling the heat.
In the Southeast, we know our way around a 95 degrees, 100 percent humidity day. With this in mind, we need to know how to keep our construction workers safe in the field.
As most of us know, working outside during the summer can increase the risk of dehydration, sunburn, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. Along with these physical ailments, hot weather can lead to slowed cognitive function, which can impair judgment and reaction time (both of which are critical for workplace safety).
Here are some proactive steps you can take to keep construction workers safe this summer:
Have a Heat Index Tool on Hand
According to Veronica S. Miller and Grhahm P. Bates, “Protection of the health of workers without unnecessarily compromising productivity requires the adoption of a heat index that is both reliable and easy to use.”
OSHA has created a free heat index app that can be used on Apple and Android devices. All you have to do is enter your location, and the app will input today’s temperature and calculate your workers’ risk.
Note: Temperatures of 92 degrees and above are considered high risk.
Dehydration is the fastest way to succumb to a heat stroke. Foremen should be sure there is ample water on hand at all times, and allow water breaks throughout the day.
Workers should aim to drink a gallon of water a day. A great way for supervisors to promote hydration is to provide gallon water bottles/jugs to all field workers.
Workers should also try to avoid eating salty, high-calorie foods during workdays as these can contribute to dehydration.
Know the Warning Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses
The CDC lists the following warning signs for heat exhaustion:
Cold, pale, and clammy skin
Fast, weak pulse
Nausea or vomiting • Muscle cramps
Tiredness or weakness
Fainting (passing out)
The following symptoms are warning signs of a heat stroke:
High body temperature (103°F or higher)
Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
Inability to drink
Fast, strong pulse
Losing consciousness (passing out)
Plan for Emergencies
Crew members should be trained and prepared for heat-related illnesses.
If one of your team members is suffering from heat exhaustion, move that person into the shade while you get the AC running in a vehicle. Have your worker take off heavy clothing like jackets, long sleeve shirts, tool belts, and helmets (if you are in a safe area).
Have a cooler full of ice and wet washcloths on site. Placing the cold cloths on your neck and wrists will help bring your body temperature down.
We also recommend having a thermometer on hand to check the temperature of a crew member who becomes ill (remember: the core body temperature of someone suffering from a heat stroke is 103 degrees or above).
If someone is displaying the symptoms listed above for a heat stroke, particularly fainting, confusion, seizures, or inability to drink, seek medical assistance immediately.
By taking steps prevention, knowing the warning signs of heat-related illness, and having a course of action in place in case of an emergency will keep construction workers safer during the grueling summer months.
This is on top of the sobering fact that the construction industry has the highest rate of suicides of any profession on a global scale.
So what can we do?
First is understanding the problem.
Industry Factors That Can Cause Depression
According to Steve Mongeau in his interview with Boston 25 News, the factors that contribute to industry-related depression include “working in a high-pressure environment, a higher prevalence of alcohol and substance abuse, separation from families, and long stretches without work.”
Along with a physically demanding job, construction workers often deal with short-term employment that requires long hours, tight deadlines, and irregular sleep schedules.
“It’s a high-pressure environment,” Mark Carrington, the managing director of Worksafe Partnership, told The Guardian. “A lot of guys are away from family all week. When every night you might be on the booze, you’re in a room by yourself. Loneliness, the drink, the pressure – the banter when it goes too far and becomes bullying.”
These factors have been ingrained in the industry for years, and with unemployment skyrocketing across the country and fieldwork being shut down in some states, these factors are even more worrisome today.
Now that we know the factors that contribute to the problem, the next step is understanding the warning signs of someone who is at risk.
CFMA is asking industry professionals to take the pledge to create “safe cultures, provide training to identify and help those at risk, raise awareness about the suicide crisis in construction, normalize conversations around suicide and mental health, and ultimately decrease the risks associated with suicide in construction.”
Employers should also consider taking progressive steps to increase workplace mental health by offering benefits like access to on-site counselors, funds for sites like BetterHelp and Talkspace, and providing training sessions on how to cope with the stress and anxiety on and off the job.
This rough-and-tumble industry breeds tough, hardworking people, but that doesn’t have to come at a price. For those who truly understand the daily grind of construction work, lets spread awareness and overcome the stigma behind asking for help.