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Showing posts from August, 2017

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…

Construction Industry Could Lead the Way on Closing Gender Pay Gap, RICS Says

The construction industry could become a leader in closing the gender pay gap, according to a new survey.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that nearly half of construction workers predict the gap will be less than 15 per cent by April 2018. It is currently 18.1 per cent.

More than one in ten respondents said they thought that there will be no gender pay gap at all by April 2018, which marks the end of the UK Government’s mandatory gender pay reporting period.

However, this positive sentiment is markedly absent in the nation’s capital, with Londoners in the construction sector predicting an average pay gap of 21 per cent

Despite a positive outlook, the research found that businesses still need to do more to tackle gender inequality and sexism in the industry.

Nearly a third of women surveyed said they thought sexism holds them back from pursuing senior roles in construction, whilst 38 per cent of men said their skills are better suited to the sector than women.

New Homes Will Now Require Solar Panels in South Miami, a First in Florida

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July 18, 2017

Anyone building a new house in South Miami — or in some cases renovating existing ones — will have to install solar panels after the city commission approved a groundbreaking law Tuesday night.

The measure, the first of its kind in Florida, will go into effect in two months on Sept 18.

The ordinance passed 4-1 Tuesday night, with commissioner Josh Liebman dissenting.

Under the rules, new residential construction would require 175 square feet of solar panel to be installed per 1,000 square feet of sunlit roof area, or 2.75 kw per 1,000 square feet of living space, whichever is less. If the house is built under existing trees, the shade may exempt it.

Home renovations that replace more than 75 percent of the structure or extend the structure by more than 75 percent would also have to follow the new ordinance.

South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, a biology professor at Florida International University, has championed this measure. His entire home runs on solar and he drives …