What Role Do Contractors Play in Green Construction?

Owners and architects are typically the drivers of sustainable design, whether their goals are to achieve a certification like LEED or simply to ensure as little negative environmental impact as possible during the building's lifecycle. Contractors, too, are in a position to influence how green a project can be, both during construction and after completion. After all, it takes buy-in and ownership from all stakeholders to achieve a project's green ambitions. With invested clients and the products and systems to do the job, contractors today can make more of an impact on sustainability than ever before. The first step toward that objective is for the owner and design team to fully communicate the project's sustainability goals to the contractor as early as possible in the bid phase, said Kristin Schuster, a project architect with SWBR, in Rochester, NY. From there, the contractor can help shepherd along — and even improve upon — those goals as it carries out its responsibili…

Hurricanes and Price Gouging

Hurricanes have brought a myriad of legal issues to the forefront.  One of the most important things for any roofing contractor or supplier to remember during hurricane repairs are the Florida-specific, price gouging laws.  Florida Statute 501.610, commonly referred to as the Price Gouging Statute, states that during a declared state of emergency the rental or sale of essential commodities for an amount that grossly exceeds the average price for that commodity during the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency is unlawful. The statute defines a “commodity” as any goods, services, materials, merchandise, supplies, equipment, lumber, and other products necessary for consumption or use as a direct result of the emergency. Inflated prices on the rental or sale of the commodities is unlawful unless the increase in the amount charged is attributable to additional costs incurred in connection with the sale of the commodity.

With regard the roofing industry, the Price Gouging…

Five Effective Ways to Create a Risk-Competent Culture

Haley & Aldrich, an environmental and engineering consulting firm, has issued an Action Report: Stop Talking About Safety Culture and Get Real About Risk. The report addresses the ways companies can prevent workplace incidents and recommends that manufacturers shift their focus to risk-competence rather than a safety culture focused on compliance alone.  The report dispels safety myths, addresses problems with a safety compliance culture and identifies strategies companies can take to reduce incidents in the workplace. “We’ve seen time and time again how some manufacturers are lulled into a false sense of security by complying with safety checklists instead of taking a good, hard look into their potential areas of risk,” said Danyle Hepler, associate scientist, at Haley & Aldrich. “For example, on the day that the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion killed 11 people, ironically, executives were at the facility to celebrate the company’s seventh year without an incident. The compan…

What Contractors Need to Know About OSHA's New Silica Rule

After a few legal fits and starts, as well as extra time for review and input, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's new silica standard for construction is scheduled to go into effect about a month from now, on Sept. 23.

What that means is contractors who engage in activities that create silica dust — that is, respirable crystalline silica — such as by cutting, grinding or blasting materials like concrete, stone and brick, must meet a stricter standard for how much of that dust workers inhale. The same goes for employers of tradespeople working around such activities.

The new standard also specifies what services employers must make available to workers who are exposed to high levels of silica dust and the training required of those who are at risk.

Inhaling silica dust can lead to silicosis, an curable lung disease that can be fatal if severe enough. Those with too much silica exposure can also develop lung cancer, kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary d…

Non-Compete and Confidentiality Agreements Can Help Address the Problem of Employees’ Side Work

Many employees in the roofing industry moonlight or perform side jobs after work or on the weekend. There are a lot of differing opinions on whether side work is acceptable or not. In some cases, if the side work is not taking business away from the company and the company’s resources and tools are not being used, a contractor might decide it’s all right for employees to do side work. In other situations, the side jobs may be competing with the business, cause the employee to perform poorly on their day job, or result in the employee habitually leaving early to get to their side job.

Whatever your stance on the situation, contractors should have solid policies in place on the issue in their employee handbooks and should consider asking all employees to sign a non-compete and confidentiality agreement. Confidentiality agreements, also known as non-disclosure agreements, protect private, proprietary information and trade secrets and should explicitly define what is to be kept confidenti…

Wearable Tech Continues Advancement in Construction

Occupational injuries and illnesses are estimated to cost the United States as much as $250 billion a year. So cutting down on insurance costs in this area makes huge financial sense.

In the construction industry, many companies are turning to wearable technology to better manage risks and incidents – and there are insurance benefits to be leveraged from this.

Triax Technologies is one company working in construction wearable tech. The Connecticut company launched its sensor technology this year.

Pete Schermerhorn, chief operating officer at Triax, said his company’s product is worn on all workers’ belts on a construction site. The sensors track all workers’ whereabouts, have an emergency locator button for accidents and injuries.

“It’s a safety system for construction. If someone slips, trips, or falls on site, this sends an automatic notification [to a site supervisor] that someone has hit the ground. The system logs how high they fell, where they fell on site, and who else was in t…

Revised Form I-9 Released by Citizenship and Immigration Services

Last week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a newly-revised Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, which will be made mandatory starting Sept. 18, 2017.

Employers may use the revised version immediately (revision date of 7/17/17 N), but may also continue to use Form I-9 with a revision date of 11/14/16 N through Sept. 17.

Changes to the revised form include:

A new name for the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, which has been changed to the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER).The changed language in Section 2, which now reads: “Employers or their authorized representative must complete and sign Section 2 within 3 business days of the employee’s first day of employment.”The List of Acceptable Documents includes the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) as a List C document.All certifications of report of birth issued by the U.S. Department of State (Form FS-545, Form DS-1350 and Form FS-240) h…