CISC Report: Proposed Silica Rule Will Cost 10 Times OSHA’s Estimates

A report released by the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) found that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed silica standards for U.S. construction industry will cost the industry $5 billion per year—roughly $4.5 billion per year more than OSHA’s estimates. The coalition cautioned that the flawed cost estimates reflect deeper flaws in the rule and urged the federal agency to reconsider its approach.

OSHA’s proposed rule, intended to drastically reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of crystalline silica for the construction industry, has been underestimated by the agency to cost the construction industry about $511 million a year. The estimates released by CISC estimate that the costs to the industry will actually be approximately 10 times the OSHA estimate—costing nearly $5 billion a year.

The cost and impact analysis from OSHA reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the construction industry. The OSHA analysis included major errors and omissions that account for the large discrepancies with the CISC report. The CISC report estimates that about 80 percent of the cost ($3.9 billion per year) will be direct compliance expenditures by the industry such as additional equipment, labor and record-keeping costs. The remaining 20 percent of the cost ($1.05 billion per year) will come in the form of increased prices that the industry will have to pay for construction materials and building products such as concrete block, glass, roofing shingles and more. OSHA failed to take into account these additional costs to the construction industry that will result from the proposed standard, which will then be passed down to customers in the form of higher prices.

Not only will the proposed rule be more costly than originally estimated, but it would translate into significant job losses for the construction industry and the broader economy. The CISC estimates that the proposed regulation would reduce the number of jobs in the U.S. economy by more than 52,700 yearly. That figure includes construction industry jobs, jobs in related industries such as building material suppliers, equipment manufacturers and architects, as well as losses in non-construction sectors. Additionally, the losses are full time employee positions. Factoring in the many part-time or seasonal jobs, that number could increase to close to 80,000 positions lost.

“We are deeply concerned about the misguided assumptions and cost and impact errors that OSHA has relied upon in creating this proposed rule that will significantly affect our industry,” says NAHB chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo. “This report reveals the critical need for OSHA to withdraw its proposed rule until it can put forth a technologically and economically feasible rule that also works to improve industry workers health and safety.”

“This report clearly demonstrates OSHA’s lack of real world understanding of the construction industry and raises serious questions about their ability to responsibly craft industry standards,” says ABC Vice President of Government Affairs Geoff Burr. “We hope that this report will lead OSHA to withdraw its proposed rule and work more closely with the construction industry to emphasize compliance with the current standard.”

“These errors raise serious and significant questions about many of the other assumptions the agency relied upon in crafting its new rules,” says Stephen E. Sandherr, the chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America. “We need measures in place that are going to allow all of us to continue the significant improvements in silica safety the industry has made, and the sad truth is that the agency’s rule is too riddled with errors to do that.”

“The assumptions that were made by OSHA in developing this rule are completely off base and we hope this report adequately tells the truth of what this rule will truly mean to the construction industry. We believe the current silica rule has done a fantastic job of reducing related illnesses so much so that it is still declining every year and current projections have it being eliminated over time,” according to Jeff Buczkiewicz, president of the Mason Contractors Association of America. “Our industry needs a rule that is based on real world construction site scenarios that is not technologically and economically infeasible to implement and this report clearly shows that this rule does not fit that bill.”

Ladder Clamp Allows for Safer Access

The SLATOR tool fastens to a steep slate or asphalt shingle roof and firmly clamps a ladder into position.

The SLATOR tool fastens to a steep slate or asphalt shingle roof and firmly clamps a ladder into position.

Falls are the leading cause of injuries and death at the workplace. In fact, according to OSHA, falling accounted for nearly 37 percent of all deaths in 2013 and is listed among constructions “fatal four.” Roofing professionals have always been particularly vulnerable to this danger. The inventors of SLATOR hope to change this. “We look forward to the day when falling off roofs was something that used to happen,” says Ronny Roseveare, co-owner of SLATOR.

A team of three remodelers/roofers from Lynchburg, Va. made a commitment to safety when they began their business in 2013. “In order to do the job right, we have to figure out a way to be safe,” says Roseveare. Between busy days working on houses, they began perfecting their approach to safety. Soon the Secure Ladder And Tie Off Responsibly, or SLATOR, was born.

OSHA compliant and ANSI certified, the thoroughly tested SLATOR tool fastens to a steep slate or asphalt shingle roof and firmly clamps a ladder into position, allowing any tradesman working on a roof easier and safer access to perform their work.

Single Insurance Policies that Insure All Parties on a Specific Construction Project Offer Benefits and Risks

With the use of wrap-up insurance policies on the rise for commercial construction projects, many contractors and subcontractors have questions about how these policies work and what unique concerns and questions they present.

Generally, wrap-up insurance refers to single insurance policies written to insure all parties involved in a specific construction project—providing coverage for the job-site risks of the owner, construction manager, general contractor, contractors, subcontractors and design firms—instead of the individual parties each purchasing and carrying their own insurance policies. Wrap-up insurance policies are most commonly used on very large commercial or public projects. Many project owners and general contractors have found that using these policies is an effective risk-management technique for handling loss exposures related to single and multiple-site construction activities.

With wrap-up insurance, the cost and extent of coverage are generally within the owner’s control.

With wrap-up insurance, the cost and extent of coverage are generally within the owner’s control.

Benefits

There are two primary types of wrap-up insurance policies: Owner Controlled Insurance Policies (OCIPs), in which the project owner is the primary sponsor, and Contractor Controlled Insurance Policies (CCIPs), which are controlled by the general contractor. Additionally, owners and general contractors can cover multiple projects under a single program in Rolling Controlled Insurance Policies (RCIPs). Typically, wrap-up insurance policies include general liability, workers’ compensation/employer liability, excess liability and builder’s risk as standard coverages, but many owners also add coverage for project environmental liability and project design team errors and omissions.

The benefits of using wrap-up insurance are numerous, especially for the owners or contractors who sponsor them. A successful wrap-up insurance program can significantly reduce risk for owners or contractors, giving them more control over insurance coverage for all the parties and avoiding unpleasant surprises about the extent of coverage parties have. Under the traditional model, owners or general contractors establish minimum insurance requirements for subcontractors and require them to furnish a certificate of insurance specifying coverage areas and limits. However, because all insurance policy terms differ slightly, there is no guarantee that a given subcontractor’s insurance will be adequate, or still in force, at the time of a loss. Furthermore, contractors and subcontractors normally have to build their insurance costs into their contract costs, and this increases bid amounts.

With wrap-up insurance, the cost and extent of coverage are generally within the owner’s control. When sub-contractors no longer have to increase their bids to factor in insurance costs, owners claim they can utilize the cost savings to fund the costs of the wrap-up insurance. And the potentially more streamlined process for handling claims can make prospective litigation less time-consuming and costly.

Risks

OCIPs and CCIPs, of course, come with their own set of risks and drawbacks for owners, contractors and subcontractors, and the parties who are asked to enroll in these policies do not always look upon them favorably. Some subcontractors and contractors have found that enrolling in wrap-up insurance policies is administratively burdensome and that the resulting decrease in volume of insurance purchases for their companies can increase the costs of other insurance they must purchase. Additionally, subcontractors should make an effort to understand the limits of coverage; it may differ from the coverage in the policies they have been accustomed to using. This should be done at the procurement stage, before a project begins, and not later, after project contracts have been signed.

Those investigating the level and limits of coverage will want to determine how responsibility for any injuries, losses or damage will be addressed and confirm that the responsibility is outlined in the building contract or the written wrap-up policy. One potential source of misunderstanding is builder’s risk coverage. Often, builder’s risk insurance is carried by the builder. With wrap-up policies, owners and general contractors may be particularly concerned with the scope of the builder’s risk coverage. For example, if a wrap-up policy excludes property damage occurring during construction but the builder’s risk policy excludes faulty workmanship, a potential gap in coverage would exist. The wrap-up insurer might take the position that it won’t pay for what is essentially a builder’s risk claim. To prevent such an outcome, owners may find they need to add coverage to the builder’s risk policy to cover faulty work or at least repairs.

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Petersen Aluminum Introduces a Marketing Tool for Construction Professionals

Petersen Aluminum's marketing tool is called Publicize Your Project.

Petersen Aluminum’s marketing tool is called Publicize Your Project.

For construction professionals who have wondered how to get their projects pictured in manufacturer advertisements, on manufacturer web sites, social media pages or published in industry magazines, Petersen Aluminum has built the tool to make it happen. The new marketing tool is called Publicize Your Project, and it’s simple, fast and free. The tool can be accessed on the Publicize Your Project Web page.

Construction professionals who have worked on a project completed in the past two years that includes Petersen Aluminum products are encouraged to submit their project for publicity. All that’s required to submit a project is basic details such as location, building type, products used, completion date plus contact information and at least one photo of the project. Project types can include commercial, educational, medical, office, public/government, retail, mixed-use or residential structures.

Photos of the structures can be amateur in style and taken with a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera. Professional photography also will be accepted. To upload photos and submit a project for consideration, visit http://www.pac-clad.com/publicizeyourproject. The Publicize Your Project page also can be accessed via the Petersen Aluminum home page by clicking on Gallery then Publicize Your Project.

Snips Provide Durability and Longevity

Stanley's FATMAX Snips feature extended-life cutting blades compared to previous FATMAX Snips, providing a new level of durability and longevity.

Stanley’s FATMAX Snips feature extended-life cutting blades compared to previous FATMAX Snips, providing a new level of durability and longevity.

Stanley launches its robust line-up of FATMAX Snips for professional construction markets.

Stanley is offering 19 FATMAX Snips which include aviation, tin and specialty HVAC snips. They feature extended-life cutting blades compared to previous FATMAX Snips, providing a new level of durability and longevity.

Aviation Snips have become popular recently because the linkage on the snips increases the mechanical advantage without increasing the blade length of the snips. Previously known as compound-action snips, they were developed for the aviation industry in the construction of aircraft, but are widely used in many construction trades today.

Research shows that pros want snips with high-longevity and durability of cutting edges for fast and precise cutting. In fact, pros who use snips frequently will buy new ones up to once a month.

To achieve cutting longevity, the FATMAX Snips are manufactured with forged Cr-V steel blades and induction-hardened. They are also rated for 18 gauge cold-rolled steel and 22-gauge stainless steel, which meet ANSI specifications. The FATMAX Bulldog Snip is rated for 16-gauge cold rolled steel or 20-gauge stainless steel, also meeting the ANSI specifications.

The 1/4-inch blade markings offer quick, precise cutting, eliminating the need to measure and mark the cut. Spring-loaded external latches provide quick one-handed operation and allow for quick and easy access in and out of work pouch. FATMAX Offset Snips have offset angled blades to provide clearance between the snip and the material while cutting.

Low-profile hardware includes a slim bolt that helps provide strength, while keeping a low profile for access. Flush-mount hardware also helps prevent catching on materials or opening in the tool pouch versus external hardware as found on others. Slim bi-material grips provide comfort for a full day’s work.

These snips are backed with a limited lifetime warranty. If the product fails during its useful life due to any deficiencies in material and product, they will be replaced. A person must contact customer service or send damaged tool to Stanley Tools, Quality Assurance, 1000 Stanley Drive, Concord, NC 28027.

PERC Provides Safety Tips for Using Propane Heaters on Job Sites

During the cold winter months, construction professionals who use temporary, propane-powered heating equipment on the job site can be more productive, making it easier to finish projects on time and on budget. In addition to providing more comfortable working conditions, propane-powered heaters can also maintain the ambient temperatures necessary for common tasks like drywall installation or painting. However, like any portable heating device, propane-powered heaters must be used and maintained properly.

A temporary propane unit that pumps hot air through existing ductwork.

A temporary propane unit that pumps hot air through existing ductwork.


“Considering the cold and snowy weather that much of the country has experienced lately, it’s an ideal time to remind builders and remodelers how important it is to properly install, maintain and use propane-powered heaters,” says Bridget Kidd, director of residential and commercial programs for the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). “By following a few simple guidelines, they can ensure optimum job site performance, comfort and safety.”

PERC offers the following advice to help construction professionals stay safe and warm this winter:

At sites using propane cylinders to power heaters:
  • Ensure that propane cylinders are in good condition without bulges, dents, excessive rust or signs of fire damage.
  • Always transport cylinders to the job site in an upright and secured position.
  • Do not use a cylinder indoors that holds more than 100 pounds of propane.
  • Connect no more than three 100-pound propane cylinders to one manifold inside a building. All manifolds should be separated by at least 20 feet of space.
  • Check all cylinders for leaks with a suitable leak detector solution—not soap and water, which may have corrosive properties.
At sites using external propane tanks to power heaters:
  • Locate tanks a sufficient distance from property lines and the structure under construction. Consult local building codes to ensure proper compliance.
  • Place the tank on stable ground, and when locating the tank consider the potential effects of freezing and thawing.
  • Use rigid piping from the tank to the building. Flexible tubing may be safely used indoors.
  • Have a qualified propane technician ensure that all connections between the tank and heater are free of leaks.
  • Protect tanks and piping on the work site from the possibility of vehicle impact.
  • Do not store combustible material within 10 feet of any tank.
When using salamanders and other propane heaters:
  • Choose a heater that’s sized appropriately for the square footage you want to heat.
  • Keep heaters away from potentially combustible materials.
  • Only operate heaters in ventilated areas. Make sure there’s sufficient air both for combustion and to prevent carbon monoxide accumulation.
  • Use only those heaters with 100 percent safety shut-off valves.
  • When the project is complete, first turn off gas at the container valve to drain hoses or pipes before shutting off the heater itself.
  • Only allow a qualified LP gas technician to make any repairs to faulty equipment.

While kerosene and electric heaters are also available, propane is the cleanest and smartest fuel choice for job site heating. Kerosene heaters can produce an undesirable film on nearby equipment or walls. Electric heaters can’t generate nearly as many BTUs as propane-fueled heaters and they put additional load on the mobile generators used to produce electricity for power tools used around the job site.

“When it comes to heating a temporary construction site, and for other uses around the job site, propane’s benefits are clear,” Kidd adds. “Because it’s a low-carbon, alternative fuel, construction professionals who use propane-powered heaters, generators, light towers and other equipment can maintain a cleaner environment without sacrificing power or performance.”

For more information about the benefits of using clean, efficient propane on residential or commercial building sites, learning about new propane-powered products, or considering the financial incentives available on propane equipment purchases, visit the Build With Propane website.

Portland Cement Association Announces Housing Starts Will Increase by 20 Percent in 2015

Residential housing starts will be on the increase in 2015, according to the Portland Cement Association (PCA). During the 2015 International Builders’ Show, PCA Chief Economist and Group Vice President Edward J. Sullivan announced that housing starts will increase 20 percent to 1.2 million units in 2015. This is up from roughly 950,000 units in 2014, and strong gains are also expected for 2016.

Multifamily units in particular should see a significant increase in starts compared to previous years with a 12 percent jump from 2014 levels. Nearly 400,000 multifamily starts are expected in 2015 in addition to 800,000 new units in the single-family market. The trend in multifamily construction is expected to persist throughout the forecast horizon as high student debt keeps millennials out of the new home market and baby boomers leave the market.

“The forecast is based on sustained strength in the labor markets with more than 3 million net new jobs created in both 2015 and 2016,” Sullivan says. “In addition, wage gains in the context of sub-6 percent unemployment are expected to reinforce labor market fundamentals.”

Sustained strength in job creation, coupled with a gradual shift in the mix of jobs toward higher skill and more significant wage pressures suggest added strength to consumer spending. Debt to household income now lies at an 18-year low. Consumer balance sheets have endured a healing period and with improvement in the labor markets will be more able to spend than they have been in quite some time.

Construction Unemployment Rate Falls

The unemployment rate for construction workers fell to the lowest July level in five years, even though employment has stagnated in the past four months, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials urged Washington leaders to act on stalled infrastructure funding measures to help jump start construction hiring. The unemployment rate for workers who last worked in construction declined to 9.1 percent from 12.3 percent in July 2012, not seasonally adjusted, and the number of unemployed construction workers dropped by 227,000 to 767,000. Construction employment in July totaled 5,793,000, seasonally adjusted, up by 166,000, or 3 percent, from July 2012 but down by 6,000 from the revised June level. Although residential and nonresidential contractors have added workers in the past year, employment growth in July occurred only on the residential side.