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How Construction Professionals Can Stay Ahead of Evolving Regulations for Safer and More Efficient Construction Practices

Building codes graphic shows word code made of lego on top of construction plans


Editorial Note: This article was brought to you courtesy of Rose Morrison, managing editor of Renovated.com.      


Construction is a heavily regulated industry for various reasons. Many people rely on the deliverables this sector provides. The nature of this work deals with plenty of equipment and materials, creating a long-lasting impact on the environment and society. 

As professionals, staying ahead of the curve with solid construction practices and principles is imperative. The need for balance comes as laws governing the industry keep building up. 

The Landscape of Construction Regulations 

Many regulations surround the construction sector, and more are likely in the works. Priorities will grow and shift as society progresses. Professionals must comply with the current laws while considering the future rules government agencies will impose. 

OSHA Regulations 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides regulations under the OSH ACT, requiring construction employers to provide adequate safety training and assistance. Many of these regulations surround managing construction sites and using different equipment.  

The core of OSHA regulations focuses on saving the lives of staff. For instance, the construction sector has had too many trench-related fatalities. The U.S. Department of Labor says 22 workers have died due to those operations in the first half of 2022. It enforces trench inspections to keep protective equipment and training up to standard. 

OSHA also has various initiatives that echo the sentiment of its programs. For instance, the National Safety Stand-Down in May 2024 aims to raise awareness about fall fatalities and hazards. Falls made up 395 of 1,069 construction deaths in 2022. 

Related ArticleConstruction Safety Topics: Hidden Liabilities and Risk Management

Energy Codes 

The Department of Energy offers a Building Energy Codes Program that construction professionals must adhere to throughout their projects. Residential and commercial buildings need increased energy efficiency throughout their systems. 

For example, construction professionals design a home with optimal insulation to comply with the ideal energy benchmark. They bring the plan to DoE offices to review and approve it with a building permit. 

The main reason behind energy codes is their overall cost savings on the U.S. economy. From 2010 to 2040, construction projects are projected to garner $138 billion in savings from energy costs. There’s also the matter of minimizing CO2 emissions in the long run. 

Fire Safety Regulations 

The National Fire Protection Association offers a fire code that construction professionals can follow to equip buildings with the proper necessities for safety. Alarms and sprinkler systems are necessary to keep civilians safe.  

There are also regulations regarding general construction safety and building processes. Between 2016 and 2020, a yearly average of 4,300 construction fires endangered employees and caused property damage and delivery delays. 

Building Codes 

Building codes cover a structure’s design and materials. They also cover elements involving occupancy loads, height limitations and more. These aspects uphold general safety and resilience against weather and disasters. 

Some professionals abide by the International Code Council's International Building Code to cover multiple aspects of building. However, it’s also essential to adhere to the state and local codes, which have specifications according to the surrounding environment. 

Meeting Expectations in the Construction Industry 

Construction professionals are required to meet many expectations when working on different projects. This includes preexisting regulations, but some requirements go beyond what’s written in law.

Efficiency 

Professionals will measure construction efficiency in various ways, but one of the most common factors to consider is how fast processes will be. There are many stages in the life of a construction project, from the design phase to the procurement stage before construction and completion. In between all those, specialists need to coordinate with one another. 

It’s easy for project progress and communication to get lost in translation, especially without the right technology. There’s also the matter of documentation and data management throughout. Professionals must achieve cohesion and stay on track with a project’s timeline while providing high-quality deliverables to their clients. 

Affordability  

Cost-effectiveness can also play a big part in construction efficiency. Many expenses, such as manual labor and technology, go into a building project. The longer a building takes to construct, the more expenses must be shelled out. Unfortunately, someone needs to be liable for the delays. 

No one wins, as construction companies taking responsibility can bring down revenue. Some clients would answer for the delays if they had played a part in why a project slowed down. However, such incidents can build a negative reputation for the industry. Multiple families and companies already believe prices are over the top.

Availability 

Apart from affordability, housing availability is another unspoken expectation construction professionals must meet. According to Freddie Mac, the U.S. has a housing crisis, with a 3.8 million-unit deficit during the last quarter of 2020. While COVID-19 disruptions played a part in that shortage, the trend isn’t necessarily easing up.  

Many people want to build their spaces faster. Real estate property listings go live before construction even finishes to appease the clamor. Some also believe adopting technological building methods can fast-track completion to ensure everyone has a roof over their heads. 

Sustainability 

Many regulations surround the construction industry’s overall environmental impact, especially as climate change becomes more evident. Energy codes deal with minimizing emissions, but more intentional building strategies are needed. Various green building codes are available for different construction professionals to follow. 

For instance, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) aims to make construction operations more sustainable. LEED is categorized as a voluntary regulation under the EPA. The primary mandatory building standards are the International Code Council’s International Green Construction Code and ASHRAE standards. 

Staying Ahead With Construction Practices 

Many construction professionals focus on adhering to regulations as they come along. However, there is some merit to going above and beyond in your construction processes to accomplish what’s expected of your craft and more. It’s vital to understand how to achieve safer and more efficient practices. 

Utilizing Software for Construction Planning 

Construction planning needs plenty of coordination and attention to detail. Project management software allows professionals to communicate and share information throughout the building process. Having every detail streamlined and accessible can minimize delays and uphold project efficiency.  

There are also other types of software to help with the preconstruction phase. For instance, augmented reality helps construction professionals with project visualization. Imagine overlaying 3D models over a site to observe the job’s feasibility.  

There’s also the matter of taking 3D scans of a construction site to give builders every piece of information needed to plan the best possible foundation and structure. The extended reality market may exceed $100 billion by 2026. Professionals should strike while the iron is hot. 

Advancing Construction Building Methods 

Professionals love to infuse technology into different construction building processes and methods to speed up the delivery of housing options. For example, prefabrication saves plenty of time at the procurement stage of a project. 

Prefabrication assembles different building components and ships them to the construction site upon completion. Upon receiving these sections, all that’s needed is to gather everything together. The method can help with waste reduction and resource conservation.  

3D printing is another modern construction building method. Complex structures can be challenging to achieve due to logistic reasons and the unavailability of resources. Creating components from scratch, no matter the intricacy, can create unmatched architectural projects. It also minimizes material and labor expenses. 

Adopting Proactive Construction Training 

Training is mandatory among construction professionals, and taking a proactive approach is vital. It’s critical to stay updated on regulations and fulfill your compliance through various in-house educational programs.  

Construction companies may provide training programs when new mandatory building codes are enacted, but take the initiative to learn about other safety and efficiency concepts. Upon gaining proactive construction training, focus on the application. 

For instance, hold daily safety meetings to discuss techniques for maintaining personal protective equipment to promote safety. Monthly reminders or training exercises on different protocols for off- and on-site construction can also be helpful. 

Engaging in Collaboration and Networking  

The construction industry is vast, with each professional having experience with different projects. Sharing knowledge can allow the sector to learn from one another and advance together. It can also be good to create new connections with other professionals. 

Networking with different construction experts can allow you to gain contacts with specialists who will provide services different from yours. Bringing them on board for specific projects can advance the progression of your trade in the long run. 

There are plenty of collaboration and networking opportunities in the construction sector. For example, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is holding a conference regarding energy efficiency in buildings. Gain insight into different practices to improve your processes. You can also find like-minded professionals who will help you along the way. 

Conducting Regulation and Process Reviews 

Construction professionals do a good job of following different building codes. However, there’s always room for improvement. Adopting an excellence-driven mindset and conducting reviews on your compliance methods allow you to discover what to work on further. 

For example, perhaps you realize a project improved fire safety compliance due to the technology integrated into the facilities. Applying those factors to succeeding projects can make your deliverables even safer for future occupants. 

Aside from assessing different regulations, construction professionals should anticipate changes that will come up in the industry. Stay on top of construction trends and building code updates and ensure your processes adapt accordingly. 

Adhering to Modern Standards 

Construction regulations will only grow more complex as time goes on. There is no negotiation on whether or not to adopt them, especially if they are obligatory. Gain a head start by finding the right tools and practices to advance your processes and prioritize project safety.  


This is a guest post written by Rose Morrison, managing editor of Renovated.com.  


 

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