Recover from Conventional Thinking: The Future Depends on It

Think -80 degrees Fahrenheit in an Alaskan winter is easy to mitigate? Preparation is everything, so you get extreme weather clothing, stock up on food supplies, get back-up heat sources at the ready and limit your time outside. Good job on your personal sustainability plan. But what if your cold mitigation proves an inadequate match for the harshest plunge of the thermostat? What then? Instead, what if you ditched your red blood cells, softened up your spine, and manufactured proteins in your body to act as antifreeze – protecting you from freezing? Well you'd be an  Antarctic Blackfin Icefish . To say these fish have a useful adaptation is an underappreciation of their resiliency in the face of life in an extreme habitat. Both the preservation plan to mitigate the impacts of winter and the adaptation to survive them are essential to sound building design. But with resilient design, there is an intentionality to enable a building to respond to natural disturbances with

Why It's Time to Take Your Safety Enrollments and Orientations Online

OSHA has placed a heavy burden on construction operations to adhere to stringent safety regulations. All workplaces must conform to the agencies guidelines and standards. Proper tool usage, safety equipment, training, and hazard notices all seem like common sense practices. But many worker duties can evolve quickly and pulling a safety trainer to update each crew member about specific job-related risks is grossly inefficient and ineffective. More often than not, the following construction safety gaps occur.    Language Gaps Experienced workers develop specific safety vocabulary that relates to the tasks at hand. When multicultural workforces come together, relating these and other terminology in a primary language can become challenging. By utilizing mobile safety technology in each worker’s primary language, communication gaps can be avoided. Workplace Gaps It's a common practice to pull workers off one team when another group needs help to meet timelines. For exam

DOL Apprenticeship Plan Stirs Debate Among Contractors

Dive Brief: Department of Labor officials considering a new rule for U.S. apprenticeship programs have received more than 325,000 comments, many of them focused on a controversial provision that would especially affect construction workers,  according to Engineering News Record . At issue is a proposal to exempt the construction industry from one element of the plan — the creation of Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) that would take over much of the standard-setting now done by DOL and state agencies. Now that the Aug. 26 deadline for submitting formal comments has passed, DOL officials will decide whether to make any changes to the version that was  published on June 25 in the Federal Register  and  will review the comments as they work on a final version of the rule, which is expected to take months. Dive Insight: The provision in question would recognize select groups as Standards Recognition Entities (SREs), which would establish criteria for s

National Labor Relations Board's Independent Contractor Ruling Called 'Employer Friendly'

Many construction companies use independent contractors. It is a standard industry practice. However, there has always been a tug of war between contractors and lawmakers debating exactly when a worker is considered an independent contractor rather than an employee. That's driven in part by the concern that some employers will use misclassification to cheat workers out of benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled — i.e. health insurance, workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation, overtime pay and contributions to their Social Security accounts via employer payroll taxes. Earlier this year, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters brought attention to the issue when it reported that there are  approximately 300,000  construction-industry workers currently misclassified as independent contractors, all working without benefits and without the protections afforded those with employee status. But some states are making an effort to combat worker abuse. For instanc

Where Contractors Are Most Likely to Exceed the Budget

Budget structures vary by the type of construction a contractor performs. For example, subcontractors typically have a significant amount of their costs allocated to direct labor and materials while general contractors’ budgets are likely to have more subcontracted work on their books. However, despite the differences in where the budget is weighted, every contractor, no matter its specialty, is vulnerable to cost overruns. Weather delays When serious rain, snow or other weather events keep contractors from making progress on their jobs, it’s not uncommon that both subs and GCs have those lost days tacked onto their schedules. But what about the extra costs? “If we get a rain day, it's not like we can send the superintendent home and not pay him,” said Chuck Taylor, director of operations for Englewood Construction in Illinois. “If we have a construction trailer, it's not like we can tell the rental company, 'Hey, it rained today, so we're not going to p

Using Technology to Head Off Construction Fraud

While it might seem like there are new cases of construction fraud reported practically every week, the good news is that the construction industry is pretty far down on the list of businesses affected by fraudulent acts by employees and subcontractors. Banking and finance, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), followed by manufacturing, government and public administration, health care, retail, insurance, education and energy industries all have more incidents than construction does. The bad news is that even though the construction industry doesn’t lead the pack, it is still impacted significantly by fraud. Angela Morelock, managing partner and forensics expert at BKD LLP in Springfield, Missouri, said that around 6% of annual industry revenue is lost to fraud, so taking into consideration that the U.S. construction industry is an approximately $1.2 trillion-per-year field, that means a significant amount of money is handed over to bad actors ea

The Dotted Line: When Contractors Can Walk Off the Job

When general contractors or subcontractors sign on to construction projects, they usually start off believing everything will run smoothly. But, during the course of the work, issues sometimes arise that force all parties to go running back to their contracts in order to evaluate their options. One of those options for construction companies is to simply stop work, but contractors need to take care when making such a big decision. “Stopping work and ultimately terminating the contract is one of the most radical things you can do,” said Joseph McManus Jr., attorney and shareholder at law firm Carlton Fields.   Luckily, most of the circumstances under which contractors are clearly entitled to stop work are included in the most popular standard forms of contracts. Nonpayment The most common reason that contractors find it necessary to stop work, McManus said, is that they haven’t been paid for approved invoices. In that scenario, he said, contractors have the right to