Back in March, construction industry group members and leaders strongly opposed a final rule issued by OSHA that requires greater protections for workers against silica dust, citing high costs versus minimal safety improvements. This month has pitted the Department of Labor (DOL) against the construction groups.
On May 18, 2016, the DOL issued a final rule that raises the minimum salary an employee has to make in order to not qualify for overtime pay from $23,660 to $47,476. That means that any salaried worker that makes under $47,476 annually must be paid overtime for any hours worked over 40 per week. The overtime exemption have not been updated since 2004 and the lawmakers have not only brought the salary amounts up significantly to more accurately reflect current market conditions, but they have also included a provision that requires the salary threshold be updated every 3 years. The rule also increased the threshold for highly compensated employees (HCE) to receive overtime protection from $100,000 to $134,004. This rule will go into effect on December 1, 2016.
This rule has been in process since at least August of last year and based upon thousands of comments received, many of the stipulations have changed slightly. The DOLs overall goal and the reason behind these changes is to either put more money in the pockets of more middle class Americans or to allow for more free time, if companies are not willing to pay extra overtime costs.
These changes haven’t given several leading construction industry groups a warm, fuzzy feeling though. Many have submitted comments throughout the course of the approval process and others have made their feelings about the approval of the final rule very clear.
In a news release, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs Kristen Swearingen said, “DOL’s overtime rule will rob employers of needed flexibility and employees of career advancement avenues, and it will have a disruptive effect on the construction industry as a whole. The unprecedented increase in the salary threshold may force some contractors to consider switching certain employees from salaried positions to hourly. This change may deprive employees of autonomy in their work schedules and may be perceived as a demotion to employees.”
National Association of Home Builders chairman Ed Brady also released this official statement on the rule, “The sheer arrogance displayed by the Department of Labor in failing to heed the concerns of the nation’s small business community will result in severe repercussions that will harm workers, small businesses, housing affordability, job growth and the economy.”
Which side of this fight do you fall on? Tell us in the comments below.
2016 has been a big year for OSHA, as the organization has raised the cost of fines for safety violations for the first time since 1990. Made, effective in August, fines were raised 78%, making the cost of a serious violation $12,471. The construction industry is by far the most affected by OSHA regulations, as it accounted for 43.3% of all citations, 52.92% of all inspections, and 44.16% of all penalties assessed from October 2015 to September 2016. Of all specific types of contractors, roofing contractors account for the largest quantity of citations (6,924), following by framing contractors (3,810), and masonry contractors (2,501).
Dubai has held the record for world’s tallest building since the opening of the Burj Khalifa in 2010. The gigantic tower, which houses office, residential, retail, and hotel space spread over 163 floors stands 2,717 feet (828m) in the air. It was an impressive feat, once in which Dubai and the United Arab Emirates pride themselves on, but in a few short years, its crown will be passed to a new record holder.
Habitat for Humanity is one of the construction industry’s favorite volunteer organization and for good reason. Over the past 40 years, the non-profit builder has helped construct, rehabilitate, or preserve over 800,000 affordable houses for families in need. It’s truly an area that construction workers throughout the world can showcase their skills and donate their time, in order to give back to their community.
There have been several new laws in 2016, or new enforcement styles of existing laws, that are ready to make their mark on the construction industry. Among them are the US Department of Labor’s new rules on overtime pay and the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act. Both laws affect the amount construction employees must be paid and when they should receive that pay, so documentation of employee time sheets and payments is becoming increasingly important. If your company plans to bid on any Federal Government work, violations of these new laws can keep you from getting the job.
There’s no doubt that construction is one of the toughest jobs in the world, but there was a time when power tools and heavy construction machinery didn’t even exist. Even with those tools being absent on job sites, amazing structures were still built for thousands of years and with extremely intricate detail. SO how exactly did they do it? Tons of manpower and tons of time, something that many modern jobs don’t have the luxury of. Ignoring all of today’s modern conveniences, a group of French construction workers and other skilled tradesmen and women have teamed up to build an authentic 13th Century style castle.
2016 has been filled with controversial law changes affecting contractors, like the first increase in OSHA fines in 27 years, OSHA’s new injury reporting rule, and new overtime pay rules. Industry groups have submitted comments hoping to ease the pain on contractors, but have not had any success overturning any of them. The next challenge facing contractors started with the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order signed in July 31.
Even though self-driving vehicles are just that, self-driving, they’ve always still had a seat for a driver and a steering wheel. Perhaps that means that designers were afraid that their technology wouldn’t work correctly. Or maybe, customers weren’t fully committed to only being able to use them as a self-driving vehicle. Well, it seems as if Komatsu isn’t worried about either of those things anymore, as they’ve officially unveiled their newest autonomous (self-driving) haulage vehicle this week at MINExpo, which was held in Las Vegas from September 26-28, 2016.
Decades in the making, The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC) officially opened its doors to the public on September 24, 2016. Contained inside are over 36,000 artifacts that document and promote the accomplishments of African Americans throughout history and is “the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture,” according to the museum’s website.
There are people who spend their lives searching for Big Foot or the Lock Ness Monster, but sometimes humans only find legends when they’re not specifically looking for them. Reports have surfaced this week of a construction crew in Altamira, Para in Brazil which has apparently found the largest snake in history on their job site.
There’s no doubt that road work can be a huge inconvenience to drivers, but many times businesses in the route of the work can suffer more, even causing some to have to close permanently. While many projects around the country have been navigating towards pre-fabricated and modular construction to reduce the time workers actually spend on site, a project in Canada will be opting for the giant inflatable tunnel method.