Springtime Construction Safety Tips

Just like winter, springtime brings its own unique set of challenges for construction workers. To ensure safety while on the job, both employers and their workers need to understand the necessary precautions and safety equipment required to navigate the changing temperatures and extreme weather conditions common during the spring.

 

Personal Protective Equipment

Spring weather is fickle, often sunny and mild one day and near freezing the next. Construction crews should be equipped with the proper PPE, and extras—like gloves, boots, and warm layers—should be kept on site to replace wet equipment or in case of a sudden change in the weather.

To combat low visibility weather like fog and rain, employees should also wear reflective, hi-vis raincoats or vests. Waterproof gloves and boots with good grip and traction are also a must for traversing jobsites in the spring, and to improve visibility, anti-fog spray can be applied to safety glasses to keep them clear.

 

Review Weather Protocol

Before you head out to tackle the first project of the season, give your crew a refresher on the protocols for dealing with extreme weather. Thunderstorms are frequent in spring, and working around metal structures and tall equipment puts construction workers at risk of lightning strikes. Foremen should not only be aware of the forecast but should also watch for signs of a developing storm during the workday. Even if thunder is distant, lightning can strike 10 miles from a storm, and crews should take shelter until the threat has passed.

Strong winds are also common during the spring. If your employees are working high above the ground, review fall protection, ensure proper harness usage, and encourage your crew to move with heightened caution in strong winds.

In early spring, fluctuating temperatures can cause rain and melting snow to refreeze into slippery spots. Just like in winter, on days when the temperature dips below freezing, make sure to inspect the jobsite before work begins, tackling ice with salt or sand for traction.

 

Mud and Earthwork Safety

Spring showers plus thawing ground equals mud—lots of mud. Employees should wipe or stomp off muddy boots before getting onto equipment to avoid slipping. To ensure your machinery stays functioning at its best, try to keep them clean of mud and dirt, especially on the undercarriage.

If your operation is moving earth this spring, check the ground stability before moving an excavator over it to reduce the risk of getting stuck or tipping over. Additionally, employees need to understand backover prevention, including how to establish safe paths for pedestrian traffic and awareness of equipment blind spots.

For more seasonal safety tips, visit the Landwehr Construction blog.

 

Spotting the Signs of Foundation Damage

When it comes to your home or business, noticing and addressing the signs of foundation damage early is essential. If left untreated, they can lead to further damage and costly repairs that could have been avoided. While the presence of one of these signs doesn’t necessarily confirm foundation damage, it’s certainly worth getting a professional foundation examination if you notice several of the warning signs of foundation damage.

 

Doors and Windows

Foundation damage can cause doors and windows frames to shift out of their natural shape, or “out of square,” causing poor latching, sticking, or even outright jams when trying to open or close them. Check to see if your windows and doors have shifted by measuring their width at the bottom, middle, and top—if the measurements don’t match up, your frames have likely moved.

 

Gaps

On the exterior of your building, check for places where the windows are pulling away from the outside walls. Even if it’s not a result of foundation damage, it should still be addressed, as the holes can allow pests and moisture into your home. Gaps like this can also occur at junctions where floors and ceilings meet interior walls, or you might notice them near cabinets or other features that are attached to or built into the walls, like crown molding.

 

Cracks

Some cracks are harmless, like the small ones that result from seasonal temperature changes; while they should probably be patched to avoid drafts and improve the look of the building, they’re most likely not from foundation damage. However, if the crack meets any of these criteria, it could be a result of a shifting or uneven foundation:

  • Wider than 1/8th of an inch
  • Wider at one end, narrower at the other
  • Forming in a horizontal or 45-degree angle, especially when coming off a window or door frame
  • Forming in a stairstep pattern, especially on exterior brick walls
  • Leaking water from or around it

 

Sagging Floors

All buildings settle to a certain degree, but a heavily sloping floor—more than one or two inches of slant in 15ft—can spell trouble for your foundation, especially if it slants in one direction or is pulling away from the wall. The good news? The direction your floor is slanting can help direct you right to the location of the foundation damage.

Not sure if your floor is slanted? Check by stretching a piece of string from one end of the room to the other. If you hold it tight to the floor at both ends, you’ll be able to see where the floor dips away from the string.

 

Get a Professional Opinion

If you’re unable to ascertain the health of your foundation, just remember: foundation problems only get worse if left untreated, so for your peace of mind and the health of your home or business, it’s best to call a professional for an assessment. As a certified member of the Deep Foundation Institute, Landwehr Construction has the foundation solutions to get your building back on solid ground. Learn more about our foundation solutions or contact us today.

 

The Process of Demolition

Building Demolition by Landwehr

There’s more to the commercial demolition process than knocking everything down with hammers and wrecking balls. There’s no one-size-fits-all method, either. Every structure has different challenges and external factors that need to be taken into account, so experts need to be knowledgeable and well-trained in the process of demolition.

 

Surveying the Building

 

Demolition experts conduct a building survey and a structural survey, examining the various factors to help them determine the safest and most effective method of demolition. They consider the original construction of the building, the materials used, the current condition, building codes, drainage routes, shared walls, and how the demolition may affect people living nearby.

 

Removing Hazardous Material

 

Specialists are called in to remove dangerous materials before demolition starts. This includes asbestos minerals, radioactive substances, and flammable materials and liquids.

 

Developing a Demolition Plan

 

Using the information gathered during the survey, experts form a comprehensive plan to demolish the building, which includes things like:

  • Building location
  • Distances from surrounding road, buildings, and other structures
  • Safety measures to protect and keep out the public
  • Demolition method
  • Demolition waste disposal or recycling plan

 

Ensuring Safety

 

After ensuring the demolition crew has the proper permits, everyone on site, from the machinery operators to engineers to site supervisors, is briefed on the demolition plan process, as well as the potential hazards, like dust and noise. Everyone is equipped with the PPE needed to keep them safe, and emergency plans are reviewed.

 

Tearing it Down

 

After the preparation stages, much of the process depends on the method of demolition method chosen in the plan. At Landwehr Construction, we specialize in excavator demolition, a non-explosive method. Using tools, like shears, crushers, and hydraulic hammers, which attach to the arm of the excavator, the building is demolished from the top down. On the ground, workers with sledgehammers break down large chunks of material so the rubble can be more easily transported.

 

Looking for demolition services in the St. Cloud or Twin Cities Metro area? End your search with Landwehr Construction. As a certified member of the National Demolition Association, you can rest easy knowing Landwehr Construction will handle your job with the utmost safety and precision.

 

Common Project Delays and How to Avoid Them

Project delays are, in the best-case scenario, frustrating to work around. In the worst case, they can waste valuable time and money, sometimes spent correcting mistakes that could have been avoided with better planning. Of course, some project delays are truly out of your control, but understanding how these common issues can be avoided will help keep your projects on schedule and your clients satisfied.

 

Budgeting Problems

 

A comprehensive budget for a construction project should consider every aspect of the job’s expenses, from worker wages to building materials to necessary permits. Budget inaccuracies can be extremely detrimental to your project’s schedule, delaying it by months or even halting it indefinitely. There’s even the possibility your company could have to pay out of pocket to make up for the mistake.

 

Always start planning your project’s budget early. There are plenty of software options on the market that can help you reduce the chance of inaccurately representing the project’s budget. Once the work has started, monitor the real-time costs of the project to ensure the expenses are on track.

 

Poor Scheduling

 

A good schedule is essential to completing your project on time. It should plan which parts of the jobs need to be carried out in what order and provide a way to monitor project progress, allowing the process to be tweaked along the way.

 

Avoid scheduling issues by creating a detailed project plan—the less you can leave to chance, the better. Don’t leave contacting subcontractors until the last minute, and keep them informed with clear expectations and project updates. Among your own team, encourage quick action and fast decisions to keep things moving.

 

If the project is delayed, be honest and straightforward with the client about the new timeline, as well as how it will affect other aspects of the job.

 

Bad Weather

 

Poor weather conditions are one of the most common project delays and, unfortunately, one of the least predictable. While rain, heat, or snow may not be a problem for indoor crews, they can easily bring outdoor projects to a sudden, grinding halt.

 

When it comes to bad weather, the best thing you can do is to stay informed and be prepared. Especially in Minnesota, the weather can turn nasty in a matter of minutes, so stay up to date with the daily forecast. Granted, you can’t be sure it’ll be accurate, but it can at least give you an idea of what to prepare for.

 

Adjust your project schedule to account for extreme temperatures. With proper saftey practices, your crews can often continue working in the heat or snow, but remember—the safety of your employees comes first.

 

At Landwehr Construction, we understand how important the timely completion of your project is. That’s why our project managers make it a top priority to provide frequent updates, allowing you to rest easy with the knowledge that your project is right on schedule. Ready to get started?

 

Choosing the Right Construction Company

If it’s your first time hiring a construction company, you might be willing to leave most of decision-making up to the crew. However, choosing which company to hire is a decision that should rest entirely in your hands—the choice could determine the difference between a job well done and a waste of time and money. When researching or interviewing potential companies, consider these factors.

 

Licenses and Insurance

 

Make sure the company you’re considering has the proper licenses to handle your project—all parts of it, including electrical and plumbing work, if necessary. This signifies the company has been deemed a legitimate and qualified business that will complete the job in compliance with local and state building codes. In addition, look into the company’s insurance and liability policies, which can keep you, as the client, from being held responsible in the event a worker gets injured on the job.

 

Experience

 

With experience comes knowledge. Throughout your project, it’s inevitable you’ll have questions about the process, timeline, and budget. An experienced construction company will be responsive to communication and able to answer your questions with confidence, so you can spend less time worrying about the job.

 

No construction project comes without risks, but hiring an experienced crew reduces the chance of something going wrong during construction. In the event your project does hit a delay, it’s likely an experienced company has dealt with similar situations, and they’ll be able to resolve the problem much faster than a crew with less experience.

 

More experience also means the company likely has a portfolio of previous jobs to back up their quality of work. A trustworthy construction company will be not only willing but eager to give you examples of their previous work so you’ll know exactly what to expect from working with them.

 

Reviews and Referrals

 

A well-established business will have no shortage of online reviews. Look into other customers’ experiences with the construction company, taking care to note down any problems to watch out for. It’s also a good idea to ask friends and family who have had work done on their homes or businesses for referrals. Not only will this give you an honest and trustworthy source of information, but you’ll be able to see examples of the crew’s work first-hand.

 

Remember: in the world of construction, you often get what you pay for. Be wary of companies that tout much lower costs and much faster timelines than the competition—if it seems too good to be true, there’s a good chance it is.

 

With over 120 years of quality service and 180 years of combined experience, Landwehr Construction is the company you can trust to complete your project on time and on budget. Visit us online to view our full list of services, or contact us for more information.

Understanding Lift Plans

Sure, the pros make it look easy, but performing a lift with a crane takes extensive planning and the utmost regard for safety. No matter the job, the construction crew needs to be confident and know exactly what to expect while the lift is being executed. The best way to ensure this is by developing a lift plan.

 

What is a Lift Plan?

 

A lift plan is exactly what the name implies—a comprehensive plan that assess the various risks, methods, and complicating factors of a job. It serves as a guide to follow during the job and keeps all the information in one place, where it can be easily accessed and reviewed by the parties involved in the lift.

 

There are three basic types of lifts: standard, non-standard, and critical. The process of developing a lift plan helps determine if the job is a critical lift by assessing factors like load weight and the involvement of multiple cranes. While every lift needs a lift plan, the extensiveness of the plan depends on the difficulty of the job; the plans for a critical lift will be much more detailed than those of a standard lift, as critical lifts have little margin for error.

 

Lift plans are necessary to ensure the safety of all involved parties, from the crane operator to the employees on the ground. They make sure a plan is in place before the lift is ever started, leaving as little as possible up to chance.

 

What’s Included in a Lift Plan?

 

As mentioned above, the details of a lift plan are largely determined by the unique circumstances of the job; however, there are several things that should be present in a lift plan no matter what.

 

Load Details

This includes the dimensions, weight, and center gravity of all loads. The lifting points should be identified and inspected to make sure they’re stable and in good quality. Anything contained inside the loads should be recorded—are there objects that could shift or slide? Are there any hazardous materials involved?

 

The movement of the load should also be examined, from the angles of the swing to path the load will travel. A lift may be classified as critical if the load travels near or over occupied buildings.

 

Equipment Details

No matter what equipment is involved in your lift, they should be detailed and recorded thoroughly. If using a crane, include the lifting capacity or load chart to ensure it can handle the loads. Don’t forget to account for the space needed to operate or assemble the crane within the worksite.

 

Detail your rigging solutions as well. If the job calls for turning or rotating a load, both your rigging and crane need to account for potential shifts in weight distribution.

 

Worksite Evaluation

This includes the environmental and seasonal weather risks that could affect the lift, like rain, snow, or wind. Assess hazards in the load movement path: trees, power lines, buildings, other equipment, or workers.

 

Personnel

Note the names and contact information of anyone involved with the job, from the crane operator to the worksite supervisor. From looking at the plan, employees should have a clear idea of where to direct questions. Record your communication methods during the lift, whether it be voice commands, hand signals, radio, or a combination of all three, and have a plan in place for keeping ground-level workers out of the way when the lift is being performed.

 

At Landwehr Construction, we understand the importance of a thorough, well-researched lift plan. The needs of every customer and the requirements of every job are unique, so we create customized solutions to ensure your project is completed with the planning and care it deserves. For more information on our crane and rigging solutions, visit us online.

Benefits of Solar Power for Businesses

Solar panel installations are expected to double by 2023, making solar energy the fastest-growing source of renewable power. Besides reducing their effect on the environment, solar energy offers multiple money-saving, reputation-boosting benefits for businesses. If you’re questioning whether now is the right time to make the switch from coal-based power to solar energy, here are several things to consider.

 

Financial Savings

 

Probably the largest benefit for businesses is the financial savings. Investing in solar energy for your company is exactly that—an investment. It will take a while—several years, most likely—but the money you save as a result of switching to solar energy will eventually pay for the cost of installation.

 

Even after you’ve paid off your solar panels, your operating costs will continue to be lower than they ever were before, saving your business thousands in the long run. Electrical overhead can cut heavily into business profits, but EnergySage reports a 75% reduction to the average business’ power bill after installing solar panels. Whether your business undertakes a full or partial switch to solar power, the savings will be prominent.

 

With no or reduced dependence on a power company, you won’t have to deal with the fluctuations of the market. Solar energy gives you control of your electrical overhead; you won’t be subject to increases in your monthly bill due to inflation and power shortages. Your power costs won’t increase unless you decide to expand your solar panel system.

 

Because of their lack of moving parts, solar panels require little maintenance. While they do need to be routinely inspected, this is mostly to check for dust or debris that would affect their functionality. Otherwise, solar panels are noiseless and built to withstand the elements, even snow. Their cells don’t often break down, but if they do, most trusted solar companies offer extended warranties.

 

Tax Benefits

 

Installing solar panels could make you eligible for solar energy tax credit (ITC), which can be claimed on federal income taxes. Solar panel systems installed by the end of 2020 can claim a 26% tax credit, which will drop to 22% in 2021, after which it will expire unless renewed. Depending on your location, state and local governments offer other incentives and rebates for businesses who choose solar energy.

 

Lower Cost of Installation

 

Solar panel investment has increased in recent years due to the lower cost of installation, which has fallen almost 90% since 2010. With prices expected to continue to drop through at least 2050, you may wonder why you should bother making the switch at the market’s current price.

 

However, with no “lowest price” in sight and coal power predicted to be unprofitable by 2040, waiting to invest in solar energy only prolongs the inevitable switch, and you lose money you could be saving by reducing your electrical overhead. Additionally, the tax benefits discussed above will continue decreasing and eventually expire.

 

Green Looks Good

 

In recent years, society has pushed for companies to be held accountable for their effect on the environment. Customers, especially those belonging to younger generations, are more likely to support companies who share their values. Investing in solar energy improves your reputation by showing you’re taking the steps toward a green-friendly future. You can even market your switch as a selling point, so customers know when they partner with your company, they’re partnering with people who care about the environment.

 

At Landwehr Construction, we believe renewable energy is the future. As members of the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association, we perform multiple necessary services in the pre-installation phase of solar panels, including site clearing, grubbing, fencing, and more. Visit our website for more information.

How Cranes Are Made

If you’ve read our post on the history of cranes, you know they’ve been around for quite a while. Primitive cranes were constructed simply, from compound pulley systems, and powered by the strength of humans or animals. Thankfully, cranes have long-since been mechanized, and we no longer have to lift heavy loads with our own brute strength; however, modern cranes now require a more complicated construction process.

 

Materials

 

Because they need to be trusted to lift immense weights, high-strength low-alloy (HSLA) steels are the primary material used in crane construction. Not only are they easier to weld, but these steels contain a low level of carbon, which increases their durability.  They also include elements like chromium, titanium, and nickel to further enhance their strength, and they’re extremely resistant to corrosion, increasing the overall lifespan of the crane.

 

Other materials used in construction depend largely on the type of crane being constructed, but bronze and aluminum are commonly used for other structural elements. Electrical components like circuitry and wiring form the innerworkings of the controls, and strong plastics are used for other parts inside the cab. If the finished crane will be mobile, rubber is used to make the tires.

 

Manufacturing

 

Lime, coke, and iron ore are melted in a blast furnace to create molten steel, and oxygen is flushed through to remove carbon and other impurities that would compromise the steel’s strength. The steel is poured into molds, where it cools and hardens into ingots.

 

The ingots are shaped into various forms—plates, bars, rods—with immense pressure from massive rollers, then are cut to size based on the specific design requirements. The hollow tubes used to form the crane’s boom are made by welding the sides of a flat steel sheet together or by piercing through the center of a steel rod. Long rods are thinned with dies to create wires, which are combined and twisted to form the crane’s cables.

 

The parts are packaged and shipped to a crane manufacturing company, where further metalwork is done to shape the parts into their desired forms.

 

Assembly

 

The specific assembly of the crane, again, depends on the type of crane; mobile cranes need to be affixed to a crawler or truck, while tower cranes may need to be partially constructed on the job site. The different elements of the crane are bolted and welded together to create the finished product.

 

Because of the nature of their work, cranes need to be thoroughly tested with and without weight to make sure they’re properly functioning. If and only if the crane’s operation meets the standards set by OSHA and the Crane Manufacturers Association or America, the crane is approved for use. It is sent to a job site or construction company, either shipped whole or in several parts that will be assembled upon arrival.

 

Landwehr Construction’s cranes are valued for both their safety and strength. Our equipment is regularly inspected by trained team members, and the welfare of our employees and customers is always paramount. For equipment you can trust to get the job done right, call Landwehr Construction at 1-800-456-1284 or visit us online.

Winter Construction Safety Tips

While winter doesn’t stop most construction crews, it can be a dangerous time for workers. Extreme cold, ice, and snow can all create unsafe working conditions, so it’s important for both employers and employees to be well-educated on the best practices for winter construction safety. As you read these tips, bear in mind that worker safety should be prioritized above all else.

Know the Forecast

Winter weather, especially in the Midwest, can turn from mild and sunny to a full-on blizzard in a matter of hours. Employers should be well-informed of the weather, checking the forecast at the beginning of the workday and monitoring it throughout. If a storm is scheduled to hit, inform workers and allow them enough time to travel home in safe driving conditions.

When deciding whether it’s safe for your workers to be outside, don’t forget to consider the Wind Chill. Provide plenty of opportunities for employees to take breaks and warm up in a heated space. If possible, limit their exposure by prioritizing indoor tasks when the weather is less than agreeable. For a more comprehensive reference, check out OSHA’s article on cold stress.

Personal Protective Equipment

In addition to standard construction PPE, winter calls for extra protection from the elements. Layer clothing with moisture-wicking garments on the bottom to prevent getting wet. Clothing should be loose enough to prevent circulation restriction but not so loose as to get in the way of the job.

Boots should be slip-resistant and insulated, and if they are equipped with steel toes, add an extra pair of socks to protect skin from the metal. Most of the body’s heat escapes through the head, so don’t skimp on a hat. Gloves should be insulated but still allow workers to perform their jobs, and it’s not a bad idea to keep an extra pair on hand in case they get soaked. Cheeks and noses are especially susceptible to frostbite, so facemasks or balaclavas should be work in extreme cold.

Temperatures can change quickly, so if removing or adding layers throughout the day, make sure your high visibility clothing is always on the outermost layer.

Conduct Worksite and Equipment Inspections

When arriving at your worksite, clean snow, ice, and icicles off rooftops, walkways, and working surfaces. Look for fallen trees or power lines, and apply sand and salt to surfaces to melt ice and provide workers with grip. Pay attention to weather throughout the day, too; snow may melt and refreeze, creating ice where there was previously none.

Inspect cranes, trucks, and other equipment for ice, especially on the stairs, and clear loose snow off windscreens to ensure operators have full visibility. Make sure cab heating is fully functional, and consider adding emergency winter kits to vehicles; they should contain things like ice scrapers, snow shovels, blankets, water bottles, and basic first aid packs. Some equipment, like hoses, can become stiff and easily breakable in the cold, so warm up equipment properly before using.

Educate

Take time to educate workers on proper winter construction safety, including recognizing the signs of frostbite and hypothermia and the importance of taking breaks to warm up. Provide a refresher course on fall protection with increased focus on recognizing slippery conditions and maintaining three points of contact when climbing.

If you’re looking for a company to provide safe, efficient winter construction work, look no further than Landwehr Construction. We’ve served Minnesota and the surrounding areas since 1895 and have prioritized employee safety from the very beginning.

Demolition in the Winter

Winter is here: snow is falling, the ground has frozen, and business owners are scrambling to finish the renovation projects they started in summer and fall. While most people associate demolition projects with every season other than winter, it’s a common misconception that demolition can’t happen in the colder months.

Can Demolition Projects Happen During Winter?

Depending on the size of your project and the specifics of the weather, winter demolition can be completed. Heavy snow, ice, and freezing temperatures are factors which can affect the project, even creating threats to worker safety. The key to combatting this is a trusted company who prioritizes safety and knows the proper techniques to mitigate danger.

That said, it’s also important you remain flexible during the course of the project. With the ever-changing conditions of a Minnesota winter, it’s possible snowstorms or extreme cold could delay the project.

Demolition Projects Suited to Winter

When deciding whether to tackle your demolition project during the winter or wait until spring, consider the scope of your project. Small-scale indoor renovations can easily be done during the winter—things like removing old cabinets, taking out flooring in preparation for replacement, or tearing down a wall. Larger indoor projects can be completed as well, like gutting a commercial space while leaving the exterior untouched.

If your demolition is part of a larger project, taking care of what you can during the winter streamlines the process; knocking down an old exterior balcony in the winter means you’ll be able to start construction immediately come spring.

While it’s true larger-scale projects may be better-suited to spring, most construction companies worth their salt have no trouble accommodating winter demolition. When discussing a potential project, be honest and clear about any time restrictions, and your company will be able to help you decide the best time to begin.

Benefits of Winter Demolition

During the colder months, business slows for construction and demolition companies, so you might be offered lower prices for your winter demolition project. Additionally, companies experience increased availability, giving them more time to prioritize the completion of your project.

Questions about winter demolition? Call the experts at Landwehr Construction at 1-800-456-1284, or visit our website for more information.