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.
Caterpillar is not resting on what made it successful in the past anymore and probably for good reason. The equipment manufacturing giant recently bought Yard Club, a heavy construction equipment sharing company, looking to take advantage of the recently popularized sharing economy. Earlier this month, Caterpillar invested $2 million in Fastbrick Robotics, an Australian robotic technology company.
Just last November, a massive Five-Alarm fire rocked a multi-story residential building that was almost 80% complete at the time, completely destroying the project. This month, yet another multi-story residential tower that was almost complete caught fire, making it the 5th in 5 year to suffer the same fate. At least 3 of the previous 3 fires have been ruled as arson but, up to this point, no arrests for any of the previous arsons have been made.
In January of 2017, OSHA released a final rule which greatly reduced the allowable exposure to beryllium, a mineral that can cause deadly lung disease. While not as commonly encountered in the construction industry as other substances that cause terrible lung diseases, like crystalline silica and asbestos, beryllium is linked to a disease called chronic beryllium disease, which kills around 100 people each year. It’s commonly found in coal slag, which is used for sandblasting. According to the New York Times, OSHA estimates that 11,500 construction workers would be affected by OSHA’s reduced exposure limit.
Many contractors and repair technicians live out of their truck and Milwaukee Tool knows this. That’s why they’ve just released an M12 and M18 battery charger that plugs into the c12V DC outlet in your truck or van! As added security, the charger will automatically shut down if it senses that your vehicle’s battery is getting too low. Smart and ultra-convenient.
We know a lot of you out there could use this charger, so we teamed up with Milwaukee to give YOU the chance to WIN one! There are 4 ways to enter below!
In a year that OSHA can’t seem to enforce any new rules, it appears to have found a way to remove a rule from its books. As announced last week, OSHA has removed monorail hoists from Subpart CC – Cranes and Derricks in Construction. Employers are still required to follow other OSHA regulations regarding the hoists, but this rule should help clear up some inconsistencies.
Since the beginning of the year, OSHA has had a pretty hard time enforcing any of its new rules due to delays. The silica dust exposure rule was delayed 90 to September 23, the crane certification rule is facing yet another possible delay, and now the electronic injury reporting rule is facing another delay.
Just before 11 am on Monday morning, 6/26, firefighters were called to an under-construction residential building in Queens, New York after concrete scaffolding and formwork collapsed during a pour.
Two construction workers in Sarasota, Florida were recently trapped 15 stories in the air after one of the lines on their suspended scaffolding snapped. One of the two men was able to be pulled to safety by some co-workers on site, but the second was stuck on the scaffold for an hour before the fire department could rescue him.
Fiskars was first founded as a Finnish Ironworks company in 1649, making it one of the oldest companies I have heard of that is still going strong. Recently – relatively speaking - in 1967, Fiskars made a name for themselves with their orange handled scissors. Noted for their build quality, sharpness, and durability, these scissors quickly became an industry standard and a leader in the category. Since then, Fiskars has expanded into other areas of the home and outdoors. You may also recognize the name Gerber, as this is one of the brands Fiskars sells under.
For over 60 years, nominal lumber dimensions have been used in lieu of actual dimensions for lumber. That fact hasn’t stopped 2 class action suits, one for Menards and one for Home Depot, from being filed by an Illinois law firm over the size discrepancy, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.