Watch Your Step – Safety Lessons for Small Independent Contractors

This post was contributed by Holly McCarthy, who writes on the subject of a construction management degree online. She invites your feedback at hollymccarthy12 at gmail dot com. After working in heavy construction or home-building for many years, some feel like they are ready to take on small jobs on their own or maybe even start their own small business.  This can be a great and satisfying way to earn some money and be your own boss. Regardless of the size of your construction operation, there are some main guidelines that need to be kept in mind when running a reputable small construction business.  Not taking care of things in the right way could end up costing you a lot of time and money if you’re not careful.  So, make sure that you take care of business before going into business for yourself. Make Sure You’re Covered If you are planning on taking on jobs of even a very small scale, you need to have the proper insurances in order.  General liability policies are fairly affordable and won’t cut in to your overhead too much.  The average general liability policy for a small scale independent contractor is between one and five million dollars.  Rates will vary from location to location, but the money you spend may end up saving you from major liabilities later on down the line. OSHA Compliance From safety goggles to steel-toed boots, whatever the OSHA requirements for the job you’re working on happen to be—comply with them.  You may think that a luxury of owning your own business should make this less important, but all safety precautions must be taken at all times.  Often, if you are investigated by the insurance company and are found to be negligent, your claims may not be covered, and you will be personally liable. Maintain Equipment and Vehicles Properly maintained vehicles and tools will save you time and money down the road for sure, but will also help prevent any unforeseen accidents related to the equipment.  Make sure that you have pneumatic tools serviced regularly, which is often done for free by fastener sales reps when you purchase from them exclusively.  Vehicle maintenance should be done at a reputable location; save all receipts and records of maintenance on vehicles and equipment. Verify Employees With new compliance laws going into effect for large companies in the coming weeks, there will be a light of employment issues in the news.  Don’t get caught up in the politics.  Simply make sure that your employees are properly documented and you shouldn’t have any problems.
Scott Wolfe
About the Author: Scott Wolfe
Scott Wolfe, Jr. obtained his J.D. degree from Loyola University of New Orleans, and his B.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. In 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, Scott was recognized as a Leader in Law by CityBusiness Magazine. The son and grandson of general contractors, Scott is a construction litigator in the Pacific Northwest, and the founding member of the bi-coastal law firm, Wolfe Law Group. Scott is also the founder and CEO of Express Lien, Inc., a legal document preparation service for contractors. In 2008, City Business Magazine recognized Scott as one of its Innovators of the Year for the Express Lien concept. As an entrepreneur himself, Scott has a strong background in business and commercial transactions and laws. He focuses his practice on the legal issues facing the construction industry, and has represented clients in multi-million dollar construction disputes in litigation and alternative dispute resolution proceedings. Scott is a LEED AP.

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