Sunday, January 26, 2014

OSHA 300A Posting Required by February 1. Changes Coming for Recordkeeping.

This is your annual reminder that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 300A injury and illness summary form is required to be posted from February 1 to April 30, 2014.  The 300A form is a summary of the information from the OSHA 300 injury and illness recordkeeping form.  You are not required to (nor should you) post the OSHA 300 form.  For more information on completing these forms visit OSHA's website at: https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/index.html



In addition, OSHA heard public comments from January 9-10, 2014 at the US Department of Labor in Washington DC.  OSHA held this meeting to give stakeholders the opportunity to remark on OSHA's proposed rule to amend recordkeeping regulations.  The amendment would require the electronic submission of injury and illness information to OSHA.  According to OSHA, the proposal would require electronic reporting by approximately 440,000 small companies (20+ employees) annually and larger companies (250+ employees), approximately 38,000 will need to submit injury and illness data on a quarterly basis.  This amendment does not add any new requirements; it just modifies an employer's obligation to submit these to OSHA.

These changes, according to OSHA, are necessary so that the government and researchers will have better access to data to encourage earlier abatement of hazards and improved programs to reduce workplace hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.  OSHA also says that currently they only see 20 percent of the injury and illness data provided by employers.  Under the new system, they will see 50 percent of the data.

Needless to say, there are those who feel this is a good thing and there are those, many business representatives, who think well.......that public access to this data will encourage employers to underreport as a result of the potential negative impact on their businesses' reputations.  They are also concerned with liability.  Business representatives fear that posting injury and illness data online will open the business up to the pursuit of trial lawyers and unions.  Another concern of business representatives revolves around the costs associated with compliance, which can hurt business and job creation — especially the hiring of temporary workers.  Sounds like the usual business concerns, to us.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Settlement Agreement Regarding Mold in NYC Public Housing

A December 16, 2013, New York Times article titled "Facing Suit, New York City Agrees to Remove Mold in Public Housing More Quickly: Hurricane Sandy" discusses the settlement agreement between the New York City Housing Authority and people living in housing projects and coping with asthma.  These residents have long complained that maintenance workers failed to identify the leaks and other sources of moisture that cause mold to grow, these problems have only become worse since Hurricane Sandy.  The settlement will require the authority not only to remove the mold but also to fix leaks, insulate pipes and address other sources of moisture.  The agency will be required, in most cases, to fix the problem within seven to 15 days following a work order.  In addition, it requires housing officials to recognize asthma as a disability and to make accommodations for tenants with the condition. For example, the authority could be expected to relocate a person with asthma and his or her family to another apartment, or to use low-toxicity fungicides or to allow extra air-conditioning units in apartments.


Water intrusion that is not cleaned up within 48 hours could lead to mold growth.
 
As many of us know in the Remediation industry, you must repair the source of the moisture or mold will return.  In addition, there has been plenty written that mold is only part of the problem when it comes to illnesses like asthma.  Problems caused by the water intrusion is more of a problem for asthma sufferers, even if their is no mold growthFixing water intrusions and removing water damaged materials, quickly (within 48 hours) would help asthma sufferers more than removing and cleaning the mold after it has grown.  However, this agreement gives the Housing Authority too long (7-15 days) to handle the water intrusion, in that time period if the area remains moist/wet it will give mold the opportunity to grow.  Visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website for more information on mold, moisture, and your home.
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Saturday, January 04, 2014

Several Indicators Show Construction Spending Improving.

A USA Today article dated January 2, 2014 "Construction Spending:Strongest Pace In Years" reported that United States (U.S.) construction spending rose in November at the strongest pace since 2009.  Construction spending increased 1% in November (annually adjusted rate of $934.4 billion).

Residential construction rose 1.9% in November.  Home building last exceeded the November pace shortly before 2008.  Spending on single-family homes has increased 18.4% year over year, while spending on apartment buildings is up 36.3% during the same period.  More than 2/3's of the residential construction market comes from single-family homes.  According to the National Association of Home Builders each new home creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue.

Construction Work on a New Dock for Lake Champlain Ferry
Commercial projects also increased 2.7% in November.  Though Government construction spending fell 1.8%.  Declines in expenditures on roadways, health care facilities, & sewer systems led much of the decrease.

According to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Press Release, November's year-over-year construction employment figures show that employment in the construction industry rose in 211 of 339 metropolitan areas between November 2012 and the same month in 2013.  According to a separate AGC Press Release, construction in November totaled $934 billion, up 5.9% since November 2012.  With private residential construction spending rising 17% and private nonresidential spending rising 1.0% since November 2012.  Public construction dropped 0.2 percent since November 2012.

While the Associated Builders and Contractors's Chief Economist Anirban Basu said the following in their Press Release, "Construction activity bounced back in November, due in part to the end of the federal government shutdown and an accompanying return to normalcy.  Nonresidential construction spending was up 2.3% on a seasonally adjusted basis compared to September, which makes a better comparison because October was so unusual."  "The recent acceleration in economic activity sets the stage for a much better 2014, both for the broader economy and the nonresidential construction industry," said Basu.  "We can expect nonresidential construction spending to expand during the first half of the year."
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Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year to one & all!

We would like to wish everyone, a Happy New Year!  Hope you all enjoy the day.  Be safe & well!