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Resilience Matters

Contractors’ Guide to Disaster Preparedness

To be ready to help the community in the wake of a natural disaster, first your own job sites need to be prepared

Flooding is the most common disaster that you're likely to encounter. Tragedies occur because we don't anticipate how quickly events can unfold.

Disaster restoration work provides a lucrative niche for many contractors. It also provides a lifeline for homeowners devastated after a major event, most of whom want to rebuild. But if you—as a local contractor—face personal devastation because your home and job sites are damaged, you’ll only be able to help yourself. To make sure you are ready to spring into action when disaster comes to your neighborhood, here’s a primer on how to keep your job sites disaster-proof, and how you can spring back quickly to help your community.

Keeping your job site disaster ready

Construction sites remain more vulnerable during storms because the basic weatherproofing elements may not yet be in place. Even after a moderate, seasonal storm, it’s common to see house-wrap torn off, roof paper fluttering in the breeze, and the interior of partially built homes flooded. During an earthquake, structures not yet fully tied down to the foundation with shear systems in place will undergo significant racking and often collapse. In wildfires, framed buildings without fire-suppression systems functional, catch fire easily and burn to the ground.

In my forty-year career I have worked many fires: three on my job sites, two homes, and a commercial building, like the one pictured above. I took over a job once for a builder whose project burned down 80% through finish and he did not have the heart to rebuild. So, I did. I understood. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons, Mick Taylor from Portland, USA – LA Riots aftermath – 1991.

Whatever hazard you face locally, prepare for it. Evaluate your risk periodically and make it a topic of you tailgate safety meeting. For example, would a stack of bricks on a scaffold become a life-safety risk in a seismic event if bricks fall atop workers below. Would a…

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  1. leenewton | | #1

    Nice article. I think you mean "shear", not "sheer".


    1. user-7513218 | | #2

      Thanks for the heads up, Lee.

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