Category: Columns

Shop Talk

OSHA SILICA PEL – 50 µg Si02/m3 What does it really mean? Words: Joel Guth I wanted to take the opportunity this month to help everyone better understand the fundamentals of OSHA’s new Silica PEL (Permissible Exposure Limit). As a mason contractor, business owner, and student of silica, I have had the opportunity to talk to literally thousands of people across the country over the years about silica and the PEL. I know from these conversations that a lot of us are frustrated and confused by the new standard. The overwhelming consensus is that people don’t fully understand the PEL and what 50 µg SiO2/m3 really means. OSHA tried to explain the new Silica Standard and PEL in 1,772 pages. With that much information, it is confusing. It shouldn’t be this complicated – it is a math formula of Air x Dust x Time. My goal is to boil the 50 µg SiO2/m3 down to its simplest form (two pages) so you can understand it and share it with your team. Remember, the intent of OSHA’s Silica PEL is to keep people working in a safe environment. OSHA has set the exposure limit to 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air or, 50 µg SiO2/m³, over an eight-hour time weighted average (TWA). But what does that really mean? In order to understand the intent of...

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Business Building: Set Simple Standards To Improve Field Productivity!

With general contractors and subcontractors pricing construction projects at low prices, you have no option but to look for ways to reduce your costs to compete. By finding ways to lower your field costs will allow you to be more competitive and make a profit. Material costs are relatively the same for all contractors and can’t be reduced much. Therefore, labor, as the largest part of most contractor’s total job cost, must be addressed as the logical choice to reduce field costs with careful planning to implement an effective production cost reduction campaign. Construction field production labor usually runs about one third to half of the total job cost for most construction trades. The best and easiest method to lower job costs is to start a productivity improvement program by taking small simple steps one by one. Each step or standard will reduce your costs by small percentage points which will add up to large overall improvements that make a real difference. Ten percent improvement = 3.3% savings! Imagine you made a company goal to improve your annual field labor costs by ten percent, which only equals to six minutes per hour. Could you make a commitment to achieve a six minute improvement goal per hour? And would is really help your bottom-line enough to make it worthwhile? Let’s look at the numbers: Total annual sales                                            = $1,000,000 Total...

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MCAA Gateway: April 2018 Cont.

Words: Lynn Nash North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association (NCMCA) President Bob Gates has announced that award-winning former high school masonry instructor Ryan Shaver will join NCMCA on March 1, 2018 to fill the newly created position of Workforce Development & Training Coordinator (WDTC). Ryan Shaver clearly stood out to the committee as someone extraordinarily qualified to take on the new position. Ryan was a national masonry champion (1993) as a student of award-winning instructor Doug Drye at Mount Pleasant High School in Cabarrus County, North Carolina.  He was a successful young journeyman mason at McGee Brothers Company and later managed his own masonry company.  He was drawn to teaching and proved to be very successful in attracting and training young folks for masonry careers at Mount Pleasant High School.  During his teaching career, he produced state and national masonry champions. He was Mount Pleasant High School Teacher-of-the-Year and a finalist for Cabarrus County Teacher-of-the-Year in 2014. Most recently, Ryan has gained invaluable experience working with Johnson Concrete Products/Carolina Stalite promoting and demonstrating patented new masonry products across the entire nation.  Ryan chaired and coordinated Masonry Education Day for the last two years at Gold Hill, which included the Carolina qualifier for Mason Contractors Association of America “Fastest Trowel on the block” competition this past November.  More than 400 students participated. Ryan says, “It is with great excitement and pleasure...

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Painter’s Corner: MCAA Magazine

MCAA Magazine Jerry Painter   Subject: Investigate Leaks I received a unique call the other day from someone with a water intrusion problem. During a driving rain he had experienced water going straight through a split-faced CMU wall. So now they had my attention! Straight through, huh? Now, I’ve seen all kinds of lumber go through masonry walls as a result of wind tests as well as storms. I’ve seen where cars have gone through masonry walls. There was even a truck stop on I-10 that makes it appear a railroad car derailed and went through a block wall. But I’ve never seen water penetrate straight through a CMU wall unless there was some form of opening involved. The only way to truly determine a water intrusion through a wall is by performing a visual assessment, and possibly a water pressure test, on the wall in question. On occasion, a good look at the wall, and the “as built” drawings can sometimes uncover something very obvious that may have just been overlooked.   There are three important factors to water intrusion: (1). A point of entry, which is not always obvious. (2). The path of travel that the water follows – with gravity. (3). An exit point. In this particular case, the owner does not want to do any investigating. At this time they would just like to stop...

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Protecting Your Business

Words: John Swindal The Swindal Group (www.swindalgroup.com) is a full-service construction consulting company providing specialty contractors with practical advice on contract formation, contract review, contract revision, contract negotiation, litigation strategy, document review, general business planning, strategic planning, and contract management strategies. John B. Swindal (jbswindal@swindalgroup.com) is the Managing Director of the Swindal Group. I hope that everyone is enjoying a great start to the year. I am certain that by the time the calendar turns from March to April and the spring season is in full swing that all of us signed some contracts with schedule obligations that we did not necessarily agree with or totally understand. That is why this month I wanted to take a look at a couple of examples of typical schedule obligation language in Subcontracts. A common tactic employed by upstream entities is to simply reference a “Schedule” throughout the contract without actually explaining the contents or obligations of the schedule. Oftentimes, the Subcontract will allow the Contractor to “direct the progress of the work as Contractor sees fit, amend the schedule at the sole direction of the Contractor and order the Subcontractor to prosecute one portion of the Work in preference to another at its sole discretion.” All of this language (and other similar language) removes a masonry contractor’s power to meaningfully schedule, adjust manpower, or plan a project to maximize efficiency and,...

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