The construction industry is facing a major shortage of labor, and this trend isn’t going away any time soon. In order for construction companies of any specialization – from roadwork and excavation to home building – to ensure that projects get completed safely, on time, and under budget, business owners need to get the most out of their employees’ time, while incentivizing new workers to join them.
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.
The construction labor shortage is being widely felt across the industry, especially as business has started to boom. Due to the fallout of the pandemic and other macroeconomic factors, construction companies have been unable to find enough workers to complete projects on time.
This workforce shortage will likely continue affecting organizations in the short-to-medium term, leading to many potential issues, including:
- Safety Concerns: Without a steady supply of trained or senior-level workers, many companies may have to depend on employees with fewer skills and less experience, putting the business and themselves at a higher risk for injury or equipment misuse.
- Lower Efficiency: Workers with less experience may work slower as they learn the ropes. This can also cause project delays and damage the company’s long-term client relationships.
- Higher Labor Costs: With such a low supply of labor and a high demand for laborers, pay rates and benefits packages have been increasing for construction workers. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 73% of construction firms of all types have increased their pay rates in the last year to deal with shortages.
Why is there a Labor Shortage in the First Place?
The current labor shortage in the construction industry is due to myriad factors that have created a perfect storm, beginning with the 2008 recession, which saw 600,000 skilled construction workers leave their jobs in that year alone. Economic reasons by themselves aren’t the only strain on the construction industry. Among the other pressures that have left this sector understaffed include a change in workforce demographics and the fallout of the pandemic.
With a large portion of the construction workforce being baby boomers, retirement is proving to be a problem for many construction and other related industries. An estimated 29% of the construction workforce will have retired by 2026, leaving a significant gap for others to fill. The surplus of older workers retiring, combined with a decline in foreign contractors willing or able to work in the construction industry, have been major factors in the ongoing worker shortage.
The Post-Pandemic Boom (and Its Fallout)
With the worst of the economic effects of the pandemic in the past, residential homeowners and businesses are finally getting around to long-awaited renovation projects and new builds. The increase in activity has created a major boom of demand that even peak pre-pandemic levels would struggle to meet. Residential homebuilding has been complemented by a large boom in governmental spending for infrastructure, including roadworks. In 2021, the U.S. Government allocated $110 billion for new funds towards roads, bridges, and other major infrastructure contracts. The issues that this boom has caused have also been compounded by the fact that training programs were largely slowed or canceled due to pandemic-related safety issues, exacerbating the construction worker shortage.
How to Reduce the Impact of the Labor Shortage
While the labor shortage is projected to be an ongoing issue, there are a few things business owners can do to keep their workers and increase their bottom line.
1. Take Advantage of Technology
There are technology solutions available that can make workers more efficient and productive, enabling them to get more done with less. Tools such as drones, digital twins, and automated safety systems can help to both reduce the need for extra workers as well as minimize the risk of injuries that could take people off of projects for days or months at a time. Certain technologies also help you to process paperwork more quickly as well as ensure that billing processes are completed automatically.
2. Offer Higher Pay and Better Benefits
While the construction industry’s pay raises don’t match up to other industries who want to hire from the same labor pool, creating incentives can help you get the talent they need. By creating a strong incentive and labor package, you can also retain talent for longer, bypassing future labor issues and retaining young employees who may become skilled, long-term workers in the future.
Labor retention through higher pay can be vital for any construction firm. With the sector facing a turnover rate of as high as 56%, providing reasons for your employees to stick around longer can help to mitigate the impacts that are facing the wider industry. Benefits that you should be considering outside of higher pay include more generous sick and vacation leave policies as well as more flexible schedules when possible.
3. Provide Training to Incentivize New and Existing Employees
If you’re looking to attract younger talent, incentivizing your new employees with clear paths to promotion and certification can boost your retention efforts. Providing younger employees with a feeling of meaning, purpose, and opportunities for career development beyond baseline construction labor can not only gain their interest, it can engender feelings of long-term loyalty to your organization. Providing training can also help to keep your employees committed to your company. Opportunities for training used in conjunction with a strong pay and benefits package can also help boost your employee retention rate for the long-term and attract new candidates through referral or word of mouth.
4. Consider Leveraging Internships
The current labor pool for young construction professionals is low: just 11% of 18-24 year-olds believe that working in the trades can lead to a high-paying job. In order to make up for the low levels of interest from the younger generation, consider being more proactive in your hiring and advertising practices for young workers. Job fairs and internships out of high school are fantastic ways to get young people interested in the work early and start developing their skills. A huge benefit of internships is that you can quickly vet those who would be promising employees and extend them an offer or apprenticeship right out of high school or college.
5. Use Alternative Talent Pools
Instead of looking at the traditional pipeline for talent, there are also other avenues that you can explore to find skilled workers for your company. One way to gain a larger talent pool is through second-chance hiring, or hiring people with felony convictions. Many correctional facilities have classes and shops for enterprising prisoners to build their skill sets, and by giving them a second chance, you may gain a dedicated worker for life. In fact, the Second Chance Business Coalition states that 82% of managers who have hired workers with a criminal record found that they bring equal or higher value to their organizations than workers without records.
Another option that your organization could investigate is hiring veterans for your workforce. Organizations like Helmets to Hardhats help veterans and construction firms find each other for placements. Many military members have skilled training relevant to the industry already and can prove to be a huge asset to your organization.
The Landscape of Construction is Changing
This shift in demographics and labor is just beginning. Companies of all kinds must adapt to ensure that the loss of workforce combined with the rapid increase in demand for services, will not cause you to lose your competitive edge – or overlook the risks and liabilities of your rapidly changing industry. That’s why it’s more important than ever to ensure your business is covered with insurance specialized for the unique needs of your industry.
It’s no secret that the construction industry has had a tough couple of years. While labor shortage is still an issue, demand is rising, which means business could be booming for those that are willing to adapt. By investing in new technology and changing recruiting and retention practices, construction companies can not only keep up, but continue to grow.
Check out the infographic below for more stats and facts around where the industry is heading and then download our report to learn more about the new technology that is changing the construction industry.
The construction industry has gone through a rough few years, causing many companies to lose out on profits or be forced to delay projects they would have otherwise started. This, when combined with grim labor statistics around the lack of new laborers entering the workforce and baby boomers hitting the age of mass retirement, has created many difficulties for organizations looking for skilled workers to complete projects. These issues have caused many construction companies to seriously reconsider the ways in which they operate.
That being said, it’s not all doom and gloom – there are plenty of reasons for optimism heading into the new year, namely the explosion of new demand that is currently springing up due to the reopening of businesses and demand for new infrastructure. The future of construction is looking bright and there are plenty of ways for business owners to not only grow but thrive in 2023.
New and Exciting Trends in the Construction Industry
The trend of increased demand for construction isn’t going away soon. In fact, the prognosis for the long-term future of construction looks great. A study done by Oxford Economics suggests construction output in North America will grow by 32% from 2020 to 2030 — presenting many exciting opportunities for construction companies. Combined with the projected growth in the U.S. housing market (a rate of 2.0% every year until 2026), the demand for new construction projects — be they residential, business, or infrastructure — will be sustainable for the foreseeable future.
Innovation in building techniques and technologies are also playing a major role in shaping the future of the construction industry. These innovations allow companies to do more with less and increase overall efficiency across the board. For example, modular construction using prefabricated parts has started trending in the industry, helping organizations save up to 30% on their costs while also shortening their project schedules. This level of cost savings is only rivaled by the growing adoption of new technologies in the construction space, from highly advanced technology like robots, to better analytics and the common drone.
Taking Advantage of New Technology is Essential For Construction Companies in 2023
New innovation in the construction technology space has allowed companies to get more work done with a lower worker count. These advancements have proven their worth for many construction companies, and many more are jumping on the bandwagon in order to retain their competitive edge. Some of the most impactful technologies that the space has seen include drones, AI, and 3D innovations.
From surveying tracts of land for a new construction site to overseeing how operations are going on the ground, drones have become a major asset and their use will only continue to grow. In fact, drones can save up to 20x the cost of traditional methods of surveying, helping companies to quickly and more cost-effectively create topographical maps with the assistance of software programs. The enhanced visibility that drones can offer ensures that this technology is here to stay.
Task automation by artificial intelligence (AI) has already reached a level where it’s useful for construction companies. As this digital technology grows, so too will its practical applications. AI in the future could be used to create better schedules and timelines to help businesses avoid project delays. These tools can also be used to assist in the design process, helping specialists and engineers to get a clearer picture of what needs to be done.
In fact, AI can combine with pictures taken by drones for automatic topographical mapping or modeling software in order to build out realistic digital twins. This provides a significant advantage across the board, especially for land surveying and excavation work. Combining AI/ML technologies with drones can quickly survey areas, create up-to-date maps, and make accurate readings on elevation and material volume. By adopting artificial intelligence and machine learning as a new technology, the construction sector can finally take advantage of big data in the way that many other verticals have been doing for years.
Once thought of as an innovation straight out of science fiction, 3D printing has found its way into the construction market and is showing tremendous signs of success for organizations. According to Grand View Research, the 3D printing construction market is poised to grow by slightly more than 100% every year all the way up to 2030. The wide uptake of this technology is due to construction companies being able to make components that can meet highly specific requirements without much material waste, and in a fraction of the time that it would normally take to create them.
When excavating new ground, there are many issues that could spring up and result in higher – and unanticipated – spending. Everything from large boulders to unmarked utility wires add risk and unexpected costs to any venture. 3D scanning allows companies to survey what’s under the earth quickly and reliably so that they can identify these roadblocks before they even start, improving the quoting process and helping to make plans that keep projects on budget and on time.
These technological advancements are only a fraction of the innovations that are fundamentally changing the landscape of how we complete construction projects. Robotics, exoskeletons, and advanced data processing will also help to make projects more efficient than their traditional alternatives. As the industry grows, a higher reliance on technological solutions will be required for companies to maintain their competitive advantage.
The Future of Construction and What’s to Come
The construction industry is going through a time of transformation. These changes are ultimately positive, but will inevitably cause some growing pains in the industry. Shifting demographics and higher levels of global instability disrupting supply chains could lead to some organizations not being able to complete their projects in a timely and cost-effective manner. On top of those issues, labor shortages are playing a large role in the pressures felt by the industry today.
Labor Shortage is a Key Issue to Overcome
The construction industry is currently experiencing a labor shortage due to a combination of high demand and a dried-up talent pool. Finding enough new employees to meet the demand may be difficult for many construction companies, but taking steps to mitigate their lack of construction workers by relying more on technological solutions, offering better benefits and incentive packages, providing training and pathways to promotion, and more can help.
The Construction Industry Can Build on Its Successes
As the saying goes, pressure makes diamonds. The demand for new construction is booming and organizations that can take advantage of new technologies and new ways of managing their employees will be rewarded. Drones, 3D printing, AI/ML technologies, and advancements in industry-specific technologies such as 3D scanning can all reduce the amount of labor that companies need in order to complete their projects on time and on budget. Construction contractors of all kinds, from pavers and excavators to home builders have a huge opportunity to innovate the way they go about their projects and set themselves up for success in the future. With large amounts of money pouring into the industry, now is the time to start innovating and investing in your future as a company.
Any major construction project has a laundry list of risks and responsibilities. From ensuring that workers remain safe to completing projects on time and within budgetary constraints, companies must take steps to ensure that not only are their current projects completed on time, but that workers and the company as a whole are protected. It pays to be informed of what’s coming up in the future. Download our industry report today to learn more about the future of construction.
As the weather grows colder and the season starts to change, there is less of a need for tree and landscaping services. That’s why many tree care and landscaping companies switch gears to provide snow removal services during the winter months.
Companies that provide snow removal services are called upon to clear roads, parking lots, and driveways. In areas where there are heavy amounts of snowfall, the weight of snow and ice may cause roof damage or cave-ins.
According to OSHA, most of the injuries that occur during snow removal operations are related to falls. Workers can slip and fall on icy sidewalks or driveways. They can slide off roofs or decks, fall off ladders or lifts, or even fall through skylights. After extraordinarily heavy snowfalls, roofs can collapse and cave in, thereby causing injuries to workers attempting to remove snow from them.
Snowplows can get into vehicle accidents when hurrying to or from a job site – or by hitting stationary objects hidden beneath the snow. Lightweight vehicles such as smaller trucks, ATVs, and UTVs may not be able to maintain control of vehicles on icy surfaces, which can lead to injuries or damaged equipment.
Ensuring Safe Working Conditions
Being proactive to avoid accidents from happening is the best way to reduce your risk this winter. Here are a few things to keep in mind when scheduling work during the cold season:
- Limit scheduling workers for snow removal from roofs when possible
- Use safe snow removal procedures that decrease the risk of roofs collapsing
- Educate workers on how to identify electrical and fall hazards
- Supply the right type of equipment for the job
- Train workers on using snow removal equipment safely, including ladders and aerial lifts
- Provide workers with safety and protective equipment, and make sure they are in good working condition
- Ensure all electrical equipment is properly grounded
- Train workers to add fuel to equipment only when engines are cold
- Advise workers to avoid placing hands near running snowblowers to unclog them
- Establish a plan to rescue workers who fall and are suspended in a body harness, or who fall on a safety net or other protection device
- Perform regular maintenance on plow trucks and plows
- Caution drivers about driving at the speed limit
- Require workers to wear warm clothing and proper footwear, including high-visibility wear
- Give workers sufficient breaks to prevent fatigue, which can cause mistakes
Protecting Your Company Against Liability Claims
Well-worded contracts and comprehensive commercial liability insurance can help prevent liability claims for snow removal companies.
Some of the problems snow removal companies face can be solved upfront by establishing the terms of service and conditions, as outlined in a well-written contract. Clearly written contracts help prevent wrongful allegations or complaints from customers. Contracts are legally binding agreements for all parties, so when both parties agree on the expectations of the snow removal service and they have it in writing, there is little room for dispute.
What goes into a responsible service contract?
Contracts should provide a detailed description of the work to be performed. For example, a strong contract might say: “Plow driveway using snowplow, clear sidewalks using a snowblower, and spread salt on the driveway and sidewalks.” The same contract might specify the snow will be pushed to the side of the driveway, but the company will not remove the snow, vs. a more general description of services as “snowplowing” or “clearing snow.”
Contracts should also state when the snow removal company will provide services. For example, snow removal contractors may opt to provide services when there is at least an inch of snow.
Other important components of a contract include terms of payment, guarantees of work, and statements about the snow removal company’s insurance.
Snow removal contractors can protect themselves against claims related to contractual obligations by having an attorney review their contracts before signing them.
Note: The above is for general guidance only and should not be considered legal advice. Seek appropriate counsel for your specific business needs and contracts.
Commercial Insurance Policies
Snow removal companies are served best with the following types of commercial insurance policies: Commercial General Liability, Commercial Auto Insurance, Workers’ Compensation, and Inland Marine Insurance.
Commercial General Liability: This is an important coverage for snow removal contractors to gain protection, and they may be required to carry it as part of a contractual obligation.
General liability covers business owners, employees, and others. It also covers property damage caused by their company. For example, if an employee accidentally damages shingles from a roof or your company was contractually obligated to put salt on the sidewalk in front of a business, fails to do so, and then someone falls on the ice and gets injured. Both of these types of claims would be covered under general liability.
General liability only applies to non-vehicle-related accidents. Accidents involving vehicles are covered under commercial auto insurance.
Commercial Auto Insurance: This coverage pays for losses for accidents involving commercially operated vehicles when used during business hours, such as plow trucks. Due to the potential severity of snowplow accidents, you may want to purchase limits as high as you can afford for both liability and comprehensive coverage, so that you are covered if one of your snowplow drivers hits a person, telephone pole, or another vehicle.
Workers’ Compensation: If your company is anything other than a one-person operation, state laws may require you to carry workers’ compensation coverage. This coverage protects employees who are injured on the job, pays for their medical expenses, and temporarily replaces their wages until they recover.
Inland Marine Insurance: Inland marine insurance covers tools and equipment that get destroyed, stolen, or damaged while being moved on land.
Hopefully, you won’t need to file a claim during the winter season. Nonetheless, always document the work you perform with photos, videos, and notes so that you have detailed records in case you need to file a claim. Be specific about dates, locations, start and stop times, and services performed. Furthermore, be sure to document any unusual problems or conditions they encounter on the job. Standard policies and procedures will help in the event of a potential or actual claim.
NIP Group specializes in insuring tree service and landscaping companies, as well as snow removal companies. Contact us to learn more.
As we move into the winter months, snow and freezing rain come down on a regular basis, not to mention the unpredictable weather patterns that are becoming more and more common. To avoid putting you and your employees at risk of slips, falls, hypothermia, or worse, seasonal businesses must be well-prepared to stay ahead of the game when it comes to winter-related injuries and accidents.
Safety concerns are particularly high in the construction industry, even when the weather is pleasant. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, slightly more than one-third of the construction deaths were due to slips and falls. Nearly all deaths were attributed to falling from a high level and about 41% of all fatal slips and falls occurred within the construction industry.
It’s common for workers to get minor injuries such as cuts and bruises after a fall, but a bad fall can also result in fractured or broken bones or even death.
When one or more workers get an injury due to winter weather conditions, it can result in:
- • Decreased productivity
- • Increased costs to replace employees
- • Overtime for current employees
- • Reputational damage to your business
It is in the best interests of your business to do everything you can to create a culture of winter safety among your employees and provide the best possible working conditions during inclement weather. The best time to start your winter weather preparedness plan is before you need it. Here are some of our top tips to get your winter safety plan started.
Winter Safety Tips for Excavators
When we think about excavators, we tend to think they only work during spring, summer, and fall; however, construction projects continue all year round regardless of the weather.
If you own a paving/excavation business:
- • Store machinery indoors to prevent snow and ice from accumulating on the surface and causing a slip hazard.
• Warm up equipment before taking it to a job site to prevent parts and equipment from locking up, and check batteries to be sure they are charged.
• Ensure workers are well-rested, as it is dangerous to operate heavy equipment when exhausted.
• Check fluids and use winter-ready lubricants for equipment.
• Use additives to the fuel to prevent it from gelling, keep fuel tanks full, and take steps to stop DEF from freezing.
• Check the air in the tires as they lose air in colder temperatures.
• Inspect equipment daily for cracks on tires, belts, and hydraulic hoses.
- • Store machinery indoors to prevent snow and ice from accumulating on the surface and causing a slip hazard.
If a mishap does happen, be sure your business is adequately protected with grading and excavating insurance.
Winter Safety Tips for Tree Trimmers
The colder months are prime time for tree trimmers for several reasons. Winter is the best time to prune trees to produce more fruit for the following year. It is easier for tree trimmers to see dead trees and branches once the leaves have fallen. Moreover, climbers have easier access to the trees, pests are dormant, and equipment can get in easier with less foliage to deal with.
If this is a busy season for you, be sure to:
- • Postpone tree trimming or cutting jobs during strong winds, intense cold, and during snowstorms.
• Require tree trimmers to wear boots that provide traction on snow and ice. Boots should have low, wide heels, and they should fit properly.
• Supply warm work gloves to keep tree trimmers’ hands warm.
• Allow workers extra time to get to job sites and complete jobs, as winter road conditions or site conditions can be more treacherous.
• Require tree trimmers to wear helmets, leg protection, face shields, and safety glasses.
• Require earmuffs or ear plugs to protect hearing.
When tree cutters get injured, specialty insurance for arborists and tree services can save your business.
Preventing Hypothermia and Frostbite
Excavators, construction workers, and other trade workers are subject to hypothermia and frostbite while working outside in freezing temperatures. Therefore, employers must take precautions to prevent cold-related injuries to workers who must work outside for long periods.
Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce. This condition causes a body’s temperature to drop below 95 degrees, which is very dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that hypothermia affects the brain, which means affected individuals may not be unable to move well or think clearly. Severe cases of hypothermia can even lead to death.
Be sure your employees are aware of the symptoms of hypothermia:
- • Exhaustion
• Memory loss
• Slurred speech
When workers are out in sub-freezing temperatures, they are also at risk of frostbite, a condition where the skin and bodily tissues become frozen. Johns Hopkins Medical Center states that frostbite can cause permanent damage or even amputation.
Excavators, tree trimmers, and other workers in the trades are most at risk of frostbite on their noses, cheeks, ears, chins, fingers, and toes. In the early stages of frostbite, workers may have pain or redness on their skin, or it may start to feel numb. The skin may turn white or grayish-yellow and may feel waxy or firm.
Help keep workers safe from frostbite by:
- • Sending workers out to job sites at the warmest times of the day.
• Postponing work during days when temperatures are extreme.
• Scaling back physical demands for workers on the coldest days.
• Adding extra workers or relief workers when necessary to get jobs done without overexposing them to extreme temperatures.
• Ensuing workers have warm liquids to drink on the job site.
• Providing a warm shelter or vehicle where workers can briefly warm up.
Treating Hypothermia and Frostbite
Your winter employee safety training program should include steps for how employees can treat hypothermia and frostbite on the job site. If you or one of your employees believe they have hypothermia and/or frostbite, take the person to a warm shelter or vehicle immediately and remove any damp clothing. Warm the chest, head, neck, and groin areas using dry blankets, towels, jackets, or clothing until the person is able to travel to the hospital.
That being said, the above is just general information and should not be considered medical advice. It’s not a substitute for a professional consultation with a qualified medical provider. If you ever have any medical concerns, call 911 or head to the hospital right away.
The construction trades carry greater safety risks than most other occupations on a good day. Certain weather conditions increase those risks exponentially, especially snowy, icy, or windy conditions.
Trade businesses risk the health and safety of their employees as well as financial and reputational risks for the company when they do not take the necessary precautions for working during the harsh winter months.
Because of increased risks during winter, excavating companies, tree service companies, and other businesses in the trades must have the proper insurance. NIP Group specializes in insuring the trades. Learn more at NIPGroup.com or contact us today to find out how the right insurance can protect business owners and their employees all year.
If you specialize or work in the tree care industry, you know how important it is to stay on top of trends to not only keep your business and employees safe, but to also growing your business and staying ahead of the competition.
In a recent webinar, NIP Group’s tree care industry experts Tom Doherty and Tim Greifenkamp were joined by Tim Walsh, President of the Utility Arborist Association (UAA), to recap 2022 and look forward to 2023. Here are our top takeaways.
Mechanization is a Big Opportunity
While it was determined that tree care professionals were providing an essential service during the pandemic, the emotional toll of COVID-19 was still felt by many – if not all – in the industry. Now, nearly three years later, we are still feeling the effects, but there are opportunities for success in this new industry climate.
“We’re seeing a lot of increases in mechanization around tree removal as well as pruning. We’ve seen a lot of work on ash trees with the emerald ash borer — a lot of trees with higher risk in climbing and dealing with them [the insects],” said Walsh.
Engage Existing Employees to Help Your Business Grow
It’s always been difficult to recruit and retain tree care employees, but during the pandemic it’s become even more challenging. When you add in mechanization, Walsh explains, it’s even more important to keep the employees you have because it’s hard to keep things going when you have expensive equipment but no one to run it.
Not to mention it’s much cheaper to keep an existing employee than to recruit, hire, and train someone new. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the cost of losing an employee range from 16% of their yearly pay for hourly employees to a whopping 213% of the salary for a highly trained position.
Train Existing Employees to Reduce Risk
It’s also imperative to train the employees that you have to reduce the risk to your business. The combination of mechanization and a younger workforce resulted in more claims for employees that have less training using newer pieces of equipment and causing loss, Doherty said.
Something that stuck out to Greifenkamp in 2022 was drivers hauling this heavy equipment but, again, without the proper training on following distances, etc. “We end up with some pretty significant rear end-type auto accidents,” explained Greifenkamp.
Doherty found that equipment-in-use rollovers spiked this year, like with bigger, heavier equipment like saws mounted onto trucks and lighter cranes mounted onto lighter vehicles. He added that sometimes it’s a simple lapse of judgment from being short-staffed and trying to complete work quickly, but it can result in a costly claim.
Looking Towards 2023
The webinar wasn’t all about learnings from 2022, though. The panel also covered what to expect in 2023 – specifically updates coming to ANZI Z133 standard.
Watch the full webinar below or on-demand.
Whether you’re a solo operator with a plow blade on your truck or a larger commercial enterprise, snow plow insurance is a necessary cost for protecting your business. We offer an overview of the basics.
According to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, more than 70% of the nation’s roads and population are in snowy regions. Annually, more than $2.3 billion is spent by state and local agencies on snow and ice control operations. The U.S. private snow plowing services industry adds another $20 billion, according to IBISWorld, encompassing 87,487 businesses and 176,744 employees. According to SIMA, the industry is highly fragmented with 80% of operations being sole proprietors, and the remaining 20% being larger operators with employees. The top operators control just 1/12th of the industry’s total revenue!
Wherever your business falls – a small seasonal operator with a plow attached to your pickup that services homes and businesses in your neighborhood or an established business with commercial contracts – the hazards are rife. They include extreme weather conditions, dangerous road conditions, and fatigue-inducing, erratic schedules with long hours. Potential exposures include vehicular accidents; stolen or damaged equipment; property damage to others; personal injuries to yourself, your workers, or to pedestrians/drivers; and lawsuits, to name but a few. It’s a business that you need to protect. Insurance is imperative and, generally, some level of coverage is required by law in most states, as is licensure.
Snow Plow Insurance Coverage
Because so many snow plow operators are small, seasonal businesses, they are usually engaged in other seasonal work. One misconception is that an existing small business policy would be sufficient coverage for any seasonal work. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, because the perils of snow plowing are specific and require coverage related to the exposures. Sometimes, existing policies can be supplemented with endorsements or with specialty coverage designed to address snow plowing. For example, NIP Group offers landscaping business insurance packages that can be customized for snow and ice removal operations, too. Find an insurance agent/broker who knows and specializes in snow plow insurance. They will know state licensing and insurance requirements and will help you find the best insurance coverage for your industry that is tailored to your operation’s specific needs. An expert agent can help you to avoid any potentially expensive coverage gaps or exposures.
Here are the primary types of snow plow insurance coverage you should discuss:
Commercial General Liability – a general policy that covers other people besides you or one of your employees. It covers damage to a property or pays for healthcare costs due to an injury or death to a third-party in a non-vehicle related accident, such as a slip and fall involving your customer or a pedestrian. If you have contracts, this coverage is often required.
Commercial Auto Insurance – comprehensive automobile coverage for any vehicles used in your business operations. If you or one of your workers is responsible for a vehicular accident while driving any business-owned vehicle, a commercial auto policy would help pay for damages or injuries to other parties. It’s in your best interest to get more than the minimum requirements to protect your business. Obtain limits as high as you can afford for both liability and comprehensive coverage to your vehicles.
Workers’ Compensation – if your employee is injured while on the job, this would cover medical expenses and temporary wage replacement during recovery.
Inland Marine Insurance – Don’t be fooled by the name of this coverage. If your business’s equipment or tools are damaged, destroyed, or stolen while being moved, inland marine insurance will usually cover those losses. Inland marine policies and coverage can vary substantially from insurer to insurer.
Ask your insurance agent/broker if there are other coverages or endorsements that might be beneficial to your particular operation.
Snow Plowing Insurance Costs
There are many factors that contribute to your snow plowing insurance cost. These include your location, the scope and type of services you provide, the number of vehicles you have, specialized tools and equipment, what types of clients you service, your claims history, your driving history, and the number of workers you employ.
Since some coverages are experience-rated, or based on your prior experience, it is essential to do whatever you can to prevent and mitigate losses.
Here are snow plowing loss prevention tips:
- Establish mandatory best practice safety standards for your operations.
- Train new employees in safety and equipment use. Hold retraining sessions for all staff each season. This Introduction to Snow Removal – Winter Operations Training Series from the Iowa Department of Transportation is an excellent 13-part video series.
- Learn what safety and loss prevention services and trainings are available from your agent/insurer and tap into them.
- Report any accidents with injuries or property damage to your agent/insurer same day, and to state insurance authorities and or police, as required; Report claims for lost, stolen or damaged equipment as soon as feasible.
- Educate your clients and community about driving safely and sharing the road with snowplows. You can often get materials from insurers or state Departments of transportation.
- Join industry associations such as the Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA) and the Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA) to keep up on trends, issues, new legislation.
- Enlist the services of an attorney to develop snow removal contracts specifying work to be performed and fees.
- Visit client worksites/ home properties preseason or prior to a snowfall to scope out the property surface conditions and to note any obstacles or hazards.
- Document work performed with photos, videos, and notes to log the date, location, services performed, start and completion times, and any notes about conditions or problems. Make this a standard operating procedure.
Remember, the least costly accidents and claims are the ones that never happen. Safety and loss mitigation are worth the effort!
Related resources for your snow removal business
Professional upholstery and carpet cleaning businesses provide an important service to many homes and businesses. You and your employees work wonders and restore carpets and upholstery to their former glory. At least, that’s what customers typically expect. But, your industry has risks and exposures that are unique to your cleaning operations. That’s why it’s vital to explore the best upholstery and carpet cleaning insurance options available to your business. In that way, your company is protected, so you can focus on running your business.
Types of Businesses Potentially Covered Under Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning Insurance
- Commercial cleaning of upholstery and carpets
- Residential upholstery and carpet cleaning
- Sofa and other types of furniture cleaning
- Mattress cleaning operations
- Curtain cleaning
- Car detailing involving interior cleaning
Why is Upholstery and Carpet Cleaning Insurance Needed for my Business?
The work you and your employees do is part science and part skill. For instance, did you know there are over 300 different kinds of upholstery fabrics, while only a handful or so are common to carpeting? However, newer imports arrive in American furniture warehouses every day.
You’re probably familiar with how certain cleaners and chemicals will react with most of the carpet and upholstery material you encounter. Although you and your team are professionals who’ve likely cleaned hundreds or thousands of pieces of furniture and carpets, there’s always the risk of an unknown or previously untested fiber or fabric that is more subject to ruining after a cleaning.
Here are some real-world examples of claims received by upholstery and carpet cleaning insurance companies every day:
- Unintentional damage on an item being cleaned or an object close to it
- Mold and mildew damage on carpets and upholstery that didn’t dry fast enough after a cleaning
- Unexpected color disturbances on materials or weakening of fibers
- Auto accidents to or from a job site that damage one of your commercial vehicles or injure a third party
- Customers getting injured while walking on a wet floor, even though they were asked to stay away during the cleaning
- Carpet and upholstery cleaning workers getting sick from cleaning solutions and chemicals or getting hurt on the job
- Upholstery and carpet cleaning companies getting sued after a worker steals from a customer
These are just a few examples of the possible things that can happen when running an upholstery and carpet cleaning company.
Upholstery and carpet cleaning insurance protects your business and others.
There are direct risks to your business, as well as client risks and potential threats to your workers’ well-being.
Your business is faced with challenges every day as it cleans the homes and offices of clients. You’ve also likely invested thousands of dollars in carpet and upholstery cleaning equipment like steam vacuums, carpet cleaners, water extractors, upholstery tools, air moving equipment, floor scrubbing machines, defoamers, commercial rug cleaning equipment, chemicals, and more.
Your carpet and upholstery cleaning business likely has amassed an impressive clientele list of restaurants, party planners and caterers, hotels, professionals, elite homeowners, and more.
Even if you’re a new business and haven’t quite gotten there yet, the last thing you want is to be underinsured and not be able to make things right if something goes wrong.
Your reputation is everything. And, being adequately insured shows customers that you take your business seriously and are prepared for any incident.
Types of Upholstery and Carpet Cleaning Insurance
There are several different types of upholstery and carpet cleaning insurance from which your business might benefit. Some are specialty coverages that may not be available from typical insurance companies.
That’s why it’s best to obtain your small business insurance from a specialty insurer who understands and serves the janitorial industry.
Here are a few of the types of insurance you should consider:
General Liability Insurance
General liability coverage protects your carpet cleaning and upholstery business from:
- Accusations that you or your crew has caused property damage at a client or third party’s property
- Allegations that your business has caused an accident, illness, or injury at a client or third-party location
- Accidents at your commercial location, such as a slip and fall incidence
- Accusations of slander or libel, that is, when someone else feels a representative of your business has caused reputational harm
General liability insurance is usually the first commercial insurance purchased by a business. The Small Business Administration says that up to 53% of companies are sued while operating their businesses. That figure is likely higher for a business in the janitorial industry.
Liability coverage will pay for property damage, medical expenses, and legal expenses up to the predetermined covered amounts in the policy.
Examples of General Liability Claims
- A homeowner who just hired your upholstery and carpet cleaning service accuses one of your workers of knocking over and breaking a rare antique vase worth thousands.
- A business claims that cleaning solutions used to clean their upholstery items and carpets has made their workers and a couple of customers ill.
- One of your business’s former customers tells another carpet cleaning business that one of your workers made comments that diminished their reputation by citing shoddy work and the use of harmful products.
- A customer slips at your place of business as they enter your workplace just after it has begun raining.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
One type of small business insurance that is required by nearly every state is workers’ compensation insurance.
But beyond the legal requirements, anytime you have a cleaning crew working for you, there’s always the chance they will suffer an accident or illness due to their job duties.
Workers’ comp will cover:
- Medical expenses for your workers when related to a job injury or exposure (illness)
- Loss of income while they’re out of work due to an accident or illness
- Death benefits to survivors in case your worker is killed on the job
- Expenses related to retraining and rehabilitation after a job-related injury or illness
The average work-related injury or illness claim can run anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000. Without workers’ comp coverage, your carpet cleaning and upholstery business would have to pay those exorbitant expenses.
Examples of Workers’ Comp Claims
- One of your workers falls down a flight of stairs at a client’s home while using a water extractor on the carpeted steps.
- A worker with well-controlled asthma relapses after using a new chemical to clean upholstery at a customer’s business.
- An employee burns their hand when using a steam vac.
- A worker trips over the electrical cord of your company’s upholstery cleaning equipment.
Commercial Auto Insurance
Private auto insurance won’t pay for accidents involving vehicles driven to and from job sites. Commercial auto insurance covers these types of claims. Commercial auto coverage will pay for:
- Collision damage to your company vehicles
- Medical expenses for injured parties in an accident
- Property damage or liability claims to other vehicles if you or one of your workers is responsible for an accident
- Rental reimbursement
- Towing expenses
Many states also require that companies have commercial auto insurance on all vehicles used for business purposes.
Examples of Commercial Auto Claims
- Your worker is backing into a customer’s driveway so they can have easier access to the carpet and upholstery cleaning equipment to unload. In the process, your company trailer hits the client’s Mercedes.
- You are driving the company truck to meet with a potential business client, and your tire has a blowout on the way, causing you to lose control of the truck and hit a vehicle. Two people from the other vehicle are injured and need medical attention.
- You don’t realize one of your workers has been drinking and gets behind the wheel of one of your work trucks. Unfortunately, he caused a three-vehicle accident, and several people were injured.
Inland Marine Insurance
The term “marine” might sound like insurance that offers protection while over water. But, in this case, “inland marine” applies to the transportation of your business’s equipment and tools that are moved over land from your commercial premises to a job site.
Your company has a gap in coverage during that time if your tools and equipment are damaged or stolen.
When your tools and equipment are not at your commercial location, your commercial property insurance won’t cover it. So, you need coverage for your equipment, machines, and tools away from your premises. That’s where inland insurance coverage comes in.
Examples of Inland Marine Claims
- Your company truck is pulling a trailer that is loaded with carpet and upholstery cleaning equipment. Your worker parks at a restaurant to grab a quick bite to eat. Your worker hears a loud “bang” and looks outside. An 18 wheeler has run into the trailer, crushing some of the carpet and upholstery cleaning equipment.
- Your worker is allowed to take the company vehicle home for the night. It has a few cleaning machines on the back of the truck. When he comes out the following morning, he discovers that the machines have been stolen.
- Along with carpet and upholstery cleaning tools and machinery, you’re on your way to a customer’s place of business. Your work laptop is on the front seat of your truck. But you’re busy getting the cleaning equipment in and out of the back of the truck. When you’re all done, you realize someone has stolen your laptop. Unfortunately, you had a higher-end laptop and spared no expense. Inland marine coverage would help to replace it.
Other Types of Upholstery and Carpet Cleaning Insurance to Consider
There are many types of commercial insurance that your business might need. Your business’s level of risk will determine how important a particular kind of coverage is for your carpet cleaning and upholstery business.
In addition to general liability, commercial auto, inland marine, and workers’ comp, here are some other types of coverage you might want to include in your insurance package.
Commercial Property Insurance
If your business has a physical location where you store your tools and equipment, then you should consider getting commercial property insurance. This type of coverage will protect your building structure and any tools, equipment, office furniture, or other items stored in the building. Commercial property coverage insures against theft or damage.
General liability insurance policies have coverage limits set by you when you get coverage. These limits usually range up to $1,000,000. But, on occasion, there are commercial liability claims that exceed coverage amounts. An umbrella policy covers claims made when the limits on your standard liability policy have been exhausted. So, suppose you have a $750,000 coverage limit on your general liability but have a claim made against your company that results in a $1,000,000 judgment against your company. In that case, there’s a $250,000 gap in coverage. An umbrella liability policy would help make up for this difference and pay the remainder of the claim.
Crime insurance covers your business if one of your workers is accused of stealing something from a customer while working for you. It also covers forgeries, the loss or theft of money held for your business by one of your employees, or in some cases, if one of your workers is dishonest and it results in a loss.
Contractors’ Pollution Liability Insurance
Chemicals and cleaners are typically used in an upholstery and carpet cleaning business. There’s always the possibility the solutions could cause an environmental illness or issue. If you dispose of older carpets or materials, it must also be done within the scope of the law. Contractors’ pollution liability insurance will cover your business for environmental illnesses and exposures caused by chemicals or solutions used in your business or improper disposal of chemicals or materials.
Employment Practices Liability Insurance
Employment practices liability insurance offers protection against accusations a worker might make when they feel their rights have been infringed upon. These include allegations ranging from wrongful termination, discrimination, emotional abuse claims, and mismanagement of benefits, among others.
Cyber Liability Insurance
We live in an age when data security issues and computer breaches are not only on the rise, but they’re quite common. Cyber liability insurance offers coverage for incidences like these. If a hacker were to steal your customer’s data and cause harm, your customer could decide to sue your business over it. A cyber liability insurance policy would pay the covered amounts for these types of claims.
Why it’s Best to Get Upholstery and Carpet Cleaning Insurance Through a Specialized Industry Insurer
Many small businesses get typical liability coverage through an insurer, with no forethought to the types of risks and exposures their company faces daily.
In the upholstery and carpet cleaning business, your business’s risks are unique and deserve special consideration. But, tailored coverage specific to your business’s needs can only come from an experienced specialized industry insurer who understands your business and the type of work you do.
Take MaintenancePro by NIP Group, for example. MaintenancePro is considered one of the foremost janitorial service industry experts today.
When you get your coverage through professionals like MaintenancePro, you’ll have more than comprehensive, tailored coverage to fit your needs. You’ll also get expert risk control guidance to help minimize the risks to your upholstery and carpet cleaning business. And if a claim is filed, you can count on superior customer service and seamless and satisfactory claims management.
It’s wise not to wait until it’s too late to have the full coverage you need for your upholstery and carpet cleaning business. Protecting your business should be your priority.