Article

Compliance & Safety for Construction Firms

By Emily Burch Harris
October 17, 2022

Construction business owners must understand local building codes and state and federal regulations around project planning. Safety and compliance in the industry are complicated, but we can help. Read on for our solution.

This is the third installment in a multi-part series about Human Resources in the construction industry. Subscribe now to be the first to know when the third installment arrives

Construction is a rewarding and challenging profession. Anyone involved in the building trade can tell you that the work is hard and that it takes a lot of skill. Whether you are the new gofer on the crew fetching supplies and doing a lot of small but necessary tasks, tradespeople doing everything involved from framing to finishing, or a site foreman who has to make sure the job gets done right and on-time, there is nothing easy about “swinging a hammer” for a living.

But the hardest job in construction comes with being an owner-operator of a small- to midsize building firm. The owner not only has to do all the jobs involved on site, but he or she has to deal with the headaches of bureaucracy as well. From local building codes to state and federal regulations, there is no shortage of laws that dictate how a project must be planned and executed; and depending on where you are on any given day, the differences from job to job can be significant.

Codes, codes and more codes make compliance crucial

To simplify the task of compliance, many states and communities adhere to building standards outlined by the International Code Council (ICC), whose I-Codes attempt to create consistency that ensure structures are built for safety, durability, and efficiency. Some of the categories addressed by the I-Codes are:

  • Building performance
  • Energy conservation
  • Fire codes
  • Fuel and gas codes
  • Green construction
  • Mechanical systems
  • Plumbing
  • Property maintenance
  • Residential structures
  • Sewage disposal
  • Swimming pools and spas

That’s just a partial list, but even as extensive as the I-Codes are, standard building codes can’t take into account every factor that influences construction in every community. Climate, geography, density, environmental sensitivity, and other conditions have a tremendous influence on what can be built where, and how. Local and state codes reflect both the practical needs and aesthetic values of the people who live in each community, and they expect that their wishes will be followed.

Those laws and codes have just as much of an effect on the price of a new home as does the cost of lumber. According to a 2021 report by the National Association of Home Builders, regulations accounted for an astounding 23.8% of the final price of a new home. In actual dollars, that averaged $93,870 in added costs in 2021, up from $65,224 in 2011.

Regulations for buildings and employees

Building codes and standards are intended to protect the owners, users, and occupants of a building or structure. And then there are the regulations that protect employees of the companies that build those structures; they dictate how any organization with a payroll operates, and many of them apply to managing the human resources side of the business. The list of laws that apply in this realm of running a business is extensive. Here’s a sample of federal employment regulations that have to be followed:

  • Affordable Care Act
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Civil Rights Act
  • Equal Pay Act
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA)
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act

In 2018 the global business consulting and accounting firm Ernst & Young conducted a benchmark study of the administrative costs associated with performing common human resources tasks necessary to comply with federal labor laws. Their report, Estimating Labor and Non-Labor Costs Associated with Common Human Resources (HR) Functions/Tasks, identified seven categories encompassing the entire employee administrative cycle, including:

  • Onboarding
  • Benefits enrollment
  • Training
  • Expense management
  • Time management
  • Performance management
  • Separation

Within those seven categories are 41 individual tasks that must be done to comply with HR regulations. The report calculated the average hourly cost associated with each task to be $13.16. That means, from the moment a construction firm hires a new employee, there is an accruing cost for everything associated with maintaining an individual on the payroll. Each day some portion of that hourly cost is spent, and that cost is multiplied by the number of employees on the payroll.

Little by little those costs add up. And it’s not insignificant. For example, one study found small- to medium-sized businesses that handle payroll manually spend an average three weeks on payroll management alone, and tasks associated with the weekly or biweekly process of payroll management represent just a few of the 41 items on Ernst & Young’s list.

Add Fingercheck to your toolbox

fingercheck toolbox

Even if following all those labor and safety laws is mandatory, there is no law saying you can’t make it easier on yourself by using tools designed to get the job done faster and more accurately. It’s the same concept that applies to building: when there’s a tool designed to do the job faster and more accurately, it is an investment in efficiency and profitability. And from a practical standpoint, no one wants to waste three weeks of the year toiling over payroll.

That is why Fingercheck designed its Workflows solution software to help with employee management, including manual tasks that can be automated, like uploading and storing safety training records. Workflows allows you and your employees to  effortlessly tackle the details associated with maintaining compliance with the difficult, complex, and time-intensive job of making sure you are following all the employment and safety laws that come with running a growing and successful business. Additionally, our HR software includes features that cover compliance with:

  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance
  • ACA reporting
  • Dependents management
  • Qualifying life event management
  • 401(k) and payroll integration

And because it’s important to make sure that employees know their rights and have access to the information they need to make informed decisions, Fingercheck helps them by providing mobile access to benefits information, online open healthcare enrollment, insurance plan comparisons, and digital insurance cards. Fingercheck goes above and beyond to make sure you’re doing right by the government and your employees—all while saving you time and minimizing the risk of inadvertently making a costly mistake.

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Find out how Fingercheck helps construction companies do business better

This is part three of a multi-part series. If you’d like to learn how Fingercheck can help you with your construction company’s HR solutions, including payroll, workflows and benefits, subscribe now.

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