Monday, November 28, 2016

5 Significant Technologies Influencing the Construction Sector

Technology within construction has seen a significant shift in the creation of smart builds and cities. We take a look at five emerging technologies which will continue to transform the industry for years to come.

Oculus Rift

Increasingly utilized by construction workers and architects in the design of homes and commercial builds, the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is making waves after previously being made popular through the gaming sector.  
With integrated headphones, users are submersed into a 3D experience, allowing users to see the inner mechanisms of model buildings, inspect materials within a virtual reality setting and interact with builds before they are constructed, allowing teams to ensure swift, informed decision making.

Microsoft HoloLens

Released in 2016, the Microsoft HoloLens will become a dominant force within the construction industry. Utilizing Windows 10, the technology is able to map environments or rooms, allowing users to view holograms and incorporate objects into the real world.
Technicians or architects can utilize the technology anywhere in the world. By using Skype, users are able to ring for advice regarding how to fix potential issues by showing fellow workers parts of the machine or building which needs resolving by walking around the model and providing a closer look. The user can even order new parts through the technology, so can be effectively utilized for maintenance.

Smart Helmets

Invented by technology company Daqri, Smart Helmets are becoming increasingly utilized to enable construction workers to work more safely, efficiently and boost performance through augmented reality. The helmets will also be compatible with BIM software.
Incorporating a sixth-generation Intel Core m7 processor, the helmet is able to map the surroundings of the user, allowing users to share this information, in addition to capturing images and videos, alongside a high-definition camera. Embedded technologies also enable thermal vision within projects, ensuring worker safety.
Not much heavier than a traditional helmet worn on site and made for all weather conditions, Smart Helmets also enable workers to gain help and support remotely, reducing the time of repairs considerably, in addition to providing work instructions on site.


Although already highly used within construction to capture updates on projects and survey at a more efficient speed then traditional surveying works, drones are set to become utilized further within construction and design, providing quicker, more accurate information.
Drones can create aerial maps of potential sites and highlight any structural issues, allowing companies to budget and plan effectively, also reducing traditional costs. Drones have also become increasingly utilized to ensure and update stakeholders in the progress of new builds

Internet of Things (IoT)

Since its conception in 2014, the Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly shaping the way in which technologies are enabling the construction sector to build smart homes and cities.
From Global Construction
Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Drones for Construction: What You Should Know

The use of drones in construction has quickly made its way from concept to reality in recent years. With rapidly evolving technologies and the government’s response to their adoption, industry members shouldn’t be learning the dos and don’ts on the fly.
That was the message from construction lawyer Trent Cotney during a recent presentation at the “Best of Success” conference.
“Less than a month ago, the law was completely different. That’s how fast things are changing,” he said. “And I guarantee you six month from now, the law will change again. So it’s something you want to constantly keep up with.” He said that 20 years ago, drones were nothing more than RC vehicles. “The drones being used today are much different … these are no longer just toys.”
Drone Usage
A potential use of drones in the glass and glazing industry is during the installation phase. Workers on-site can use them to monitor progress, identify issues and inspect quality without having to physically elevate up many stories.
Cotney discussed other primary ways drones are used in construction, and these could apply to the glass and glazing industry from a retrofit perspective. One primary application is for sales and marketing purposes.
Managers bidding on a job can go on site with the customer and fly a drone up to the application in question to further examine and discuss their scope of the work. “Better yet, you can provide that video footage or photographic evidence and make it part of your proposal,” he said.
Cotney has also seen subcontractors use drones for estimating to identify “something very specific” that could alter price or the scope of work. The third use he noted was safety, as problem areas can be identified well in advance and taken into consideration before getting involved with or beginning the job.
New Regulations
He later discussed the federal government’s efforts in recent years to regulate commercial drone usage, noting that the first couple attempts “fell flat.” He says the application process wasn’t streamlined and the average wait time to get authorized was six months long. “The government said, ‘This isn’t working,’” he said.
The federal government, however, recently proposed and put into effect new rules for “non-hobbyist small unmanned aircraft (UAS) operations” at the end of August, and he briefed attendees on some of the key points of the rules. The rules are under Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.
To start, the drone in use must weigh less than 55 pounds. “What’s interesting is that drone manufacturers are also trying to keep up with regulations,” said Cotney.
The drone also cannot fly higher than 400 feet in the air, and it can’t leave the operator’s visual line of sight. This means a second person is needed as an operator if, for example, they want to use goggles to monitor the drone.
Other rules important to consider, he says, are that the operator can’t fly over people unless they’ve consented to the inspection process, they can’t fly at night and can’t operate the drone from a moving vehicle.
Prior to operation, the drone requires a pre-flight inspection. “This is to make sure everything is secure and that the drone is operating exactly as it should before putting it up in the air,” he said.
Liabilities and Precautions
Cotney then explained key liabilities and precautions to consider when using drones for construction. “I have concerns with the use of drones for a variety of reasons,” he said. “There are things you want to think about contractually.”
He said it is imperative the contractor gets written permission from the customer to use the drone, as “that air space is part of their property.” He said the customer must acknowledge that the drone won’t be recognized as trespassing or a nuisance, and that the images can be used as the contractor sees fit. He said the contractor could take that a step further and have the customer waive any consequential damages of the drone usage.
“What kinds of things could happen with drone usage? Well, it could hit the property or someone else, or a power line—all different kinds of things can happen,” he said. “That’s why you’ve got to think about it from a liability standpoint.”
Cotney concluded with a look ahead to the next five to ten years, noting that drones could even be used to actually physically move or remove elements on the building.
“This is why I think it’s important as an industry that we’re involved in the regulations,” he said.
From USGlass News Network
Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Playing It Safe Is Playing It Smart: Why the Roofer You Hire Means More than You Think

With the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure safe working conditions for working men and women (  Every state is either governed by OSHA or the state-sponsored equivalent.  The standards set and enforce safety regulations that govern all aspects of roofing construction including the proper use of fall protection and personal protective equipment.
Falls are one of the leading causes of death and injuries in the construction industry. Therefore, roofers must not only follow the current laws and regulations governing fall protection, but also stay abreast of the many changes that occur to OSHA regulations each year.  A roofer that does not follow OSHA regulations can attract unwanted attention to a job site through OSHA and other government agency inspections. These inspections delay job progress and can severely disrupt business operations.  More importantly, if a roofer falls and gets injured on a job site, the owner could be sued and face thousands in defense costs and increased insurance premiums. Whether it be a roofer injured due to some noncompliance with safety harness standards, or a passerby injured because a worker failed to properly secure his materials, the owner can, and will, always face litigation. A single lawsuit could cost owner thousands of dollars in defense costs and increased insurance premiums.
By Trent Cotney for National Roofing Partners
Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Friday, November 11, 2016

Three Important Provisions in Residential Roofing Contracts

A good contract can be a roofer’s best friend

A contract can be a roofer’s best friend because it will contain terms that will assist the roofer in collecting money or defending claims. Although this article will not discuss all the provisions needed in a good residential roofing contract, it will focus on three important provisions that every residential roofing contract should include.
  1. Notice Provision. All residential roofing contracts should contain a notice provision which requires that the owner notify the contractor of any defects or claims within a certain time period. The notice provision must be clear and unambiguous and should also provide that failure to provide the contractor with notice results in the owner waiving any damages arising out of that claim. The courts have strictly construed these notice provisions and have required that the contractor provide the owner with a reasonable period of time to notify the contractor. All notice provisions should require that the notice be provided in writing to avoid confusion.
  2. Attorney’s Fees Provision. All residential construction contracts should contain an attorney’s fees provision which allows the contractor to obtain attorney’s fees in the event it has to seek payment or defend claims against the owner. The contractor should be aware that attorney’s fees provisions generally are considered reciprocal. Therefore, if the owner succeeds against the contractor, the owner will be entitled to its attorney’s fees that it incurred against the contractor. An attorney’s fees provision not only provides the contractor with the opportunity to collect its attorney’s fees, but also gives the contractor’s attorney an additional settlement tool that may encourage an owner to settle because of the risk of the owner having to pay for the contractor’s attorney’s fees.
  3. Venue Provision. Contractors (especially contractors that perform work in more than one county) should include a venue provision in their residential roofing contract. The venue provision governs where a case can be brought based on the contract. For example, assume you are doing work in Texas but your venue provision provides that you can only sue or be sued in Dade County, Florida where your main office is located. If a dispute arises out of the contract and the venue clause is specifically worded, the owner will have to sue you in Dade County and not Orange County, Florida. Obviously, this is beneficial for the contractor because the contractor has less travel expense and may be able to use local contacts for expert witnesses.
By Trent Cotney for Roofers Coffee Shop

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine

Important precautions to protect children

Many states have what is commonly referred to as the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine, which is a concept arising from negligence and premises liability. Although there may be nuances from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, generally speaking, an attractive nuisance is something on real property that may entice children to enter your property and potentially be harmed by the nuisance. A property owner that is aware of an attractive nuisance must take precautions to protect children from it.
What are attractive nuisances? They can include things such as swimming pools, wells, equipment or machinery, or dangerous animals. In some cases, even roof tops have been considered attractive nuisances if the owner is aware that children like to climb on the roof.
To protect himself or herself from liability, a property owner should try to eliminate attractive nuisances or otherwise prevent children from obtaining access to the nuisances by installing fencing or other measures to prevent access. Property owners can also use signs or warn children and lock up areas that may contain attractive nuisances. Keep in mind that a sign may not be enough to prevent liability under the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine, especially if the child is too young to read. Furthermore, if the owner is aware of a child playing with a particular piece of equipment or entering his or her property, then that knowledge element may lead to liability under the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine.
A common attractive nuisance for roofing contractors is leaving an unattended ladder on site for inspections. Children could harm themselves by either playing with the ladder or climbing on the roof. Despite requests, inspectors are reluctant to bring their own ladders, and timed inspections are simply not practical in many locations. On the other hand, insurers dictate that no unattended equipment should be left at a residential project site without taking adequate precautions. What can a roofer do to protect itself in this situation?
There is no easy answer to this question. First, the roofing contractor should notify the owner of the ladder and to watch for any children in the area. Second, the roofer could use temporary fencing or warning signs around the ladder to draw attention to the danger. Finally, if possible, the roofing contractor could have the access point in the back yard or in a fenced off location making it more difficult for children to obtain access to the ladder. Although many inspectors require the ladder be ready for use and abutting the roof, some inspectors allow for the ladder to be placed on the ground in a secure area for access by the inspector when needed.
For roofing contractors, it is important to address the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine in the contract documents between the roofing contractor and the owner. The contract should clearly define whose responsibility it is to maintain the construction site during the course of construction. In other words, during the course of construction, the contract should identify who will control the job site. On residential projects, it is often difficult to fence off the entire construction area. However, roofers can take precautions to remove exposed materials and check for nails on a daily basis, among other things. Furthermore, the foreman or safety person for each roofing contractor should make sure to keep children, pets, and others away from the job site during the course of construction.
By Trent Cotney for Roofers Coffee Shop
Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

OSHA's 10 Most Common Job Site Violations for Construction

Which health and safety violations occur most often on the job site today? With construction accounting for one in five workplace deaths in 2014, higher penalty payouts in place and new rules for tracking and recording violations looming, we asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration which rules are broken most often on construction-related projects.

As it turns out, the worst offenses have largely stayed the same over time. It should come as little surprise that fall-protection mishaps top the list. With more than 20,000 incidents reported in the last four years, it remains the leading cause of death in construction. Following close behind are faulty ladders and inefficient eye and face and head protection.

This summer, OSHA announce its interim rule raising maximum civil penalties by 78% to meet the requirements of a federally mandated increase designed to ensure that the fines reflect inflation. The rule went into effect on Aug. 1, bumping the maximum fee for serious violations to $12,471 from $7,000 and the penalty for willful and repeated violations to $124,709 from $70,000.

Meanwhile, OSHA caught flak this summer for the "anti-retaliation" provision of its new electronic recordkeeping rule. The contested portion of the rule eliminates post-accident drug and alcohol testing of involved employees, which critics say is essential to preventing future incidents but that OSHA contends is a privacy violation. Previously, companies that have conducted post-accident testing have become susceptible to higher OSHA fines. Furthermore, OSHA has said the data collected will be publicly available in an effort to draw attention to the most serious violations and the companies at which they occur. The rule goes into effect on Nov. 1.

The following data reflects the leading construction-related occupational safety and health violations since 2012. OSHA notes that the data for previous years is nearly identical, indicating that many of these violations have been decades-long struggles to improve safety practices in construction. In all industries nationwide, worker deaths are down from 38 per day in 1973 to 13 per day in 2014, according to OSHA.

Below, we've listed the leading violations for federal OSHA as well as for the overall state-plan program.

Fall protection
Including residential construction, guard rails, portable ladders and scaffolds, this remains the most common OSHA violation among construction-related projects. Fall-related violations accounted for 359 out of 899 deaths in 2014, according to OSHA. The administration continues to respond with Local Emphasis Programs that include a focus on fall hazards in all 10 regions of OSHA governance nationwide.

Lack of Training
Another common violation among OSHA's federal program and its state-run plans relates to training, specifically having to do with properly implementing fall-protection strategies. In addition to fulfilling the training requirements, employers must either confirm in writing that a worker has completed the necessary preparation or retrain the employee.

Eye and Face Protection
The requirement for workers in industries including construction to be equipped with personal protection equipment for their eyes and faces came to light earlier this year, when OSHA passed its final silica rule, reducing the allowable exposure to airborne silica dust five-fold and requiring that companies track worker exposure and offer medical exams for those exposed for lengthy periods. The rule updated OSHA's Eye and Face Protection Standard for consistency across its standards and to allow workers to use the latest protective gear.

Head Protection
Though not as common as falls, head-protection violations do occur. In February, a Norridge, IL-based roofing contractor was cited and fined $115,500 for violations including employees working sans head protection, in addition to fall hazards and operating a nail gun without proper eye protection.

Hazard Communication
Construction sites are home to a range of materials and substances, and contractors must ensure that their related hazards are documented and shared with the rest of the project team. Communications should include standard labeling in addition to data sheets and employee training where relevant. Lead and silica dust are among the substances requiring hazard communication.

The top 10 OSHA construction standards cited by federal OSHA:
     1. Fall Protection, residential construction (1926.501(b)(13)): 19,367 violations
     2. Ladders, portable (1926.1053 (b)(1)): 7,192
     3. Fall Protection, guard rails (1926.501(b)(1)): 6,387
     4. Training Requirements (1926.503(a)(1): 6,175
     5. Eye and Face Protection (1926.102(a)(1)): 5,835
     6. Head Protection (1926.100(a)): 4,997
     7. Scaffolds, fall protection (1926.451(g)(1)): 3,708
     8. Scaffolds, aerial lifts (1926.453(b)(2)(v)): 3,438
     9. Fall Protection, low-slope roofs (1926.501(b)(10)): 3,361
     10. Scaffolds, access (1926.451(e)(1)): 2,993

The top 10 construction standards cited by OSHA state plan states:
     1. Fall Protection, residential construction (1926.501(b)(13)): 1,840
     2. Fall Protection, guard rails (1926.501(b)(1)): 1,206
     3. Training Certification (1926.503(b)(1)): 965
     4. Training Program (1926.503(a)(1)): 943
     5. Ladders, portable (1926.1053(b)(1)): 775
     6. Hazard Communication, written program (1910.1200(e)(1)): 727
     7. Fall Protection, low-slope roofs (1926.501(b)(10)): 698
     8. Head Protection (1926.100(a)): 674
     9. Fall Protection, steep roofs (1926.501(b)(11)): 571
     10. General Safety and Health Provisions (1926.20(b)(2)): 562
From Construction Dive

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606