While winter months may be an “off-season” for excavation companies and contractors, there are several ways to keep some revenue flowing and stay busy. From winterizing equipment to catching up on paperwork, here are four ways to stay busy during the winter – and get your business ready for spring.
1. Winterize Equipment That Isn’t in Use
Contractors must take extra care to keep tractors and other heavy equipment well-maintained and in proper working order. Equipment that breaks down on the job can create unnecessary risks.
Use this list to make sure you are properly winterizing your equipment:
- Inspect lights
- Inspect and replace windshield wipers
- Check fluid levels
- Test the temperature of the heater
- Lubricate the engine
- Inspect glass and mirrors for chips and breaks
- Test the brakes
- Greases hinges and joints
- Inspect the housings for dents or damage
Encourage employees to keep equipment indoors whenever possible when temperatures drop below freezing and be sure to clear equipment from ice and snow.
2. Decrease Risk When Working on Winter Construction Projects
While construction projects are in full swing during the warmer months, work at many job sites slows down but can continue at least part of the time during the winter. Snowy and icy conditions, frozen ground, and cold winds create risks for contractors and their employees.
Require and/or provide warm protective clothing for employees such as boots with traction, helmets, gloves, and high-visibility clothing. Encourage employees to dress in layers for additional warmth.
Don’t forget that people and equipment move more slowly when it is very cold. Supervisors should allow employees extra time to get to job sites and do their work at the customer site.
Plan work around the warmest times of day and if conditions become dangerous due to extreme temperatures or snow and ice, call workers in for the day.
3. Invest in Safety Training and Improvements
For days when it is not possible to work outside, safety training programs are a good way for workers to spend time when they can’t perform their normal job duties.
Regardless of the season, unsafe conditions at work decrease efficiency and productivity. When tasks take more time than projected, it can lead to extra costs in overtime. Moreover, workers who get injured on a job site may result in a need to hire more people just to get the job done. Injuries on the job may also increase workers’ compensation costs.
When employees cannot work in the field, use that time for a few days or a week of safety training. The skills and information employees learn during the winter months can be applied all year long.
For example, employees who work outside need to protect themselves from the elements. Safety training is a good time to talk about sunburn and heatstroke prevention in the summer and hypothermia and frostbite prevention in the winter. This is also a good time to update first-aid or CPR certifications.
In addition to scheduling safety training, the colder months are a good time for contractors to make safety improvements in their processes and at their facilities by asking for input about the daily risks workers encounter on the job. Along those same lines, use downtime during the colder months to inspect facilities and/or offices for safety hazards to keep both customers and employees safe.
4. Prepare for Peak Season
For most excavating and paving companies, the pace is far less hectic when it is cold, making the winter months a prime time to review the past season and think about ways to work more safely, efficiently, and profitably.
During the winter, office personnel can catch up on paperwork, double-check their accounting, gather documents for tax preparation, and ensure your contracts are clear and specific (or update them if not). You also have the opportunity to deep clean office and storage areas during downtime.
Finally, slower periods allow time to rethink how to restructure processes and procedures, so everyone is working as safely and efficiently as possible. By implementing changes or improving existing processes, all employees will be able to acclimate to them before things get busy again.
Getting the Right Insurance Protection During Winter
Whether you choose to use your time in the winter by scaling down or engaging in other services, it is important to have the right commercial insurance policies in place. As seasons change, you may need to review worker classifications carefully as they change roles.
Depending on the type of operations, you may need a policy that includes things such as:
- General liability
- Workers’ compensation
- Commercial auto
- Employment practices liability
- Directors and Officers
- Boiler and machinery
- Builder’s risk
- Business interruption
- Crime insurance
- Fidelity bonds
At NIP Group, we can help protect your business all year long. Contact us or reach out to your broker today to learn more.