State of the Construction Industry: February 2018 Roundup
8 Minute Read
Like most industries, the construction industry is constantly evolving to respond to our increasingly digital world. Recently we’ve seen more technology adoption, increases in OSHA fines, and a labor shortage. All these changes require contractors to keep up with industry trends and ensure their jobs operate as efficiently as possible.
To help you stay in the know, we’ve compiled some of this month’s top construction industry stories:
Slow productivity growth has been holding construction back for years, with numerous studies indicating the industry hasn’t seen significant productivity gains in decades. A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, found that several construction subsectors have recently seen productivity increases. These sectors include single and multifamily housing and industrial construction.
The takeaway: Experts urge caution about these findings, but the data still gives us something to be optimistic about. Contractors should look at the technologies helping other businesses increase productivity and consider implementing them.
New, cutting-edge technologies are coming to the construction industry. If you’ve seen a drone in the sky above a construction site recently, this probably doesn’t surprise you. In addition to expanding uses for drones, construction has also seen expanding uses for robotics and digital collaboration tools. One company has even developed a semi-automated mason to reduce repetitive motion injuries.
The takeaway: Technology is changing rapidly in our industry, so keep an eye on what’s new and look for ways to incorporate new tools that will be useful for your business. Not everything will be beneficial, but some tech is definitely worth the investment.
A new report from the United Kingdom found that schools aren’t doing enough to highlight and prepare students for careers in construction, which is problematic given the projected growth of the building industry. The report suggests that better course offerings, education about new technologies, and on-site experience are important for preparing the workforce, and schools could do a better job of providing these types of education.
The takeaway: While this report focused on Wales, its insights apply to construction globally. The industry as a whole is facing a labor shortage, so developing a better system for preparing young people for careers in construction will be very important in the future. Contractors ought to pay attention to the workforce and educational opportunities in their area and weigh in with opinions and insights when possible.
Construction sites can have many safety hazards: moving vehicles, heavy objects, repetitive motions, heights, etc. According to a database recently put together by the Center for Construction Research and Training, falls accounted for 42 percent of construction fatalities between 1982 and 2015. That’s a huge amount. It’s also worth noting that many of the fatal falls occurred at low heights.
The takeaway: Following OSHA requirements for fall protection, such as guardrails and personal fall arrest systems, is critical on the jobsite. Contractors should make this a central part of their safety program, and take extra steps to document safety compliance across all of their projects.
President Trump introduced an infrastructure bill earlier this month that calls for funding and financing infrastructure improvements, addresses transportation and water infrastructure issues, discusses the permitting process for infrastructure projects, and calls for workforce development. Construction industry associations including the Associated General Contractors of America and the Construction Employers of America issued statements indicating they’re supportive of the bill, but are concerned about funding, as federal investment in the $1.5 trillion bill would only be $200 billion.
The takeaway: The infrastructure bill will be the subject of much discussion in the coming months. Contractors should keep an eye on its progress in Congress, as some potentially big projects could be on the horizon, increasing opportunities for additional work across all facets of construction.
Looking for ways to help your construction business evolve during this time of change? Get in touch at our website or on LinkedIn to learn about our construction software solutions to increase efficiency and productivity.