Category Archives: OSHA

Improving the Odds for a Jackpot Year for Your Commercial General Contracting Business

Wednesday’s Powerball drawing promises the winner a $1.3 $1.5 billion (yes, that’s “billion” with a “b”) jackpot.  Unfortunately, your odds of picking the winning numbers are about 1 in 292 million, or roughly the same odds as an architect acknowledging a deficiency in construction plans & specifications (I kid!).  Buying a few extra tickets might “improve” your chances, but they’ll remain infinitesimally small.

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to improve the odds your commercial general contracting business will have a jackpot year in 2016.  These five tips spring to mind:

  1.  Know who you’re doing business with.  One bad project can spoil the gains from ten successful ones.  Do your homework on the owners who want you to build their projects.  Avoid owners who insist on oppressive contract terms, have a history of problem jobs, and/or just don’t seem to know what they’re doing.  Sometimes the best contracts are the ones you don’t sign.
  2. Buy out subcontracts thoughtfully.  Just as you need to be careful picking & choosing the jobs you bid, you should be equally careful about selecting your downstream dance partners.  First-tier subcontractors offering you a price advantage might not necessarily be reliable team players down-the-road.  Balance price with dependability. 
  3. Cultivate a culture of jobsite safety.  Having a track record for operating safe jobsites makes your company more attractive to the best owners, keeps your workers’ compensation mod rate in-check, and decreases the chances you’ll be spending time & money this year defending against claims.  Safety first, every day.
  4.  Secure your payment rights.  In North Carolina, that means filing a Notice to Lien Agent as your work begins, informing suppliers of the identity of the lien agent, guarding against double payment liability through the Notice of Contract procedure, and enforcing your lien rights timely, when necessary.  If you’re unaware of how any of these tools work, call your construction attorney immediately.  Speaking of construction lawyers…
  5. Rely on your lawyer for more than just dispute resolution.  Construction attorneys do more than resolve claims.  We draft & review contracts (as well as construction forms) and provide counseling throughout the construction phase of a project and beyond.  Make an experienced construction attorney your partner in profitability all year long.

Good luck, both with Wednesday’s drawing and with the year ahead.  As always, comments welcome!

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Filed under Construction Risk Management, Contract Review & Negotiation, Lien Law, OSHA

New Year, New OSHA Injury and Illness Reporting Requirements

Happy new year, everybody, and for many of you, welcome to your first day of work in 2015.  Now that the champagne toasts have been made, sundry objects have been dropped from cranes and some old acquaintances have been forgot, it’s time to get down to business.  Serious business.

Specifically, the business of OSHA compliance.

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Five Key Points to Understand About OSHA’s Proposed Airborne Silica Standard

The Monday Memo in recent weeks has focused on North Carolina laws and policies bearing on the Tar Heel State’s construction industry.  Today I turn my gaze to our nation’s capitol, where public hearings are underway on OSHA’s proposed rule to lower the permissible exposure limit (“PEL”) for airborne crystalline silica, a by-product of such common construction operations as concrete and stone cutting.

Monday MemoThe hearings began on Tuesday, March 18 and continue through Friday, April 4, with a variety of construction industry and safety voices scheduled to be heard.

Here are five key points to bear in mind as the process moves forward:

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Filed under Federal law, policy & news, OSHA

OSHA Announces Heat Safety Tool App for iPhone and Android

Hot summer working conditions are right around the corner.  As part of its “Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers,” the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has announced the availability of its “Heat Safety Tool” for iPhone and Android.

According to OSHA’s website, the App:

allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite, and, based on the heat index, displays a risk level to outdoor workers.  Then, with a simple “click,” you can get reminders about the protective measures that should be taken at that risk level to protect workers from heat-related illness — reminders about drinking enough fluids, scheduling rest breaks, planning for and knowing what to do in an emergency, adjusting work operations, gradually building up the workload for new workers, training on heat illness signs and symptoms, and monitoring each other for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.

Check out the App, and stay cool, everyone.

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Filed under OSHA, Products & Services

Federal Appeals Court Strictly Enforces 6-Month Statute of Limitations for Violations of OSHA’s Record-Keeping Requirements

In a decision likely to be celebrated by employers in the construction industry, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a decision on April 6, 2012 that strictly applies the six-month statute of limitations for citing an employer for record-keeping violations under the federal Occupational Safety & Health Act (the “OSH Act”).  In so holding, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the U.S. Department of Labor’s argument that an employer’s failure to record employee injuries and illnesses represented “continuing violations” of the OSH Act that, until corrected, prohibited the six-month statute of limitations from expiring.

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Filed under Feature story, Federal case law, OSHA