Softwood lumber, often used for structural framing and decking, among other uses, may be seeing a price increase in the US in the near future. On Monday, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) has announced that they will be imposing tariffs of up to 24% on all softwood lumber imported from Canada.
"It has been a bad week for U.S.-Canada trade relations. Last Monday, it became apparent that Canada intends to effectively cut off the last dairy products being exported from the United States. Today, in a different matter, the Department of Commerce determined a need to impose countervailing duties of roughly one billion dollars on Canadian softwood lumber exports to us. This is not our idea of a properly functioning Free Trade Agreement,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in a statement.
According to the DOC, Canada imported around $5.66 billion worth of softwood lumber in 2016. The countervailing duties, which are imposed to counter apparent Canadian “subsidies,” are going to be established at different rates to different companies. The DOC released a fact sheet, which explains the subsidy rates:
“for Canfor Corporation, 20.26 percent; for J.D. Irving, Limited, 3.02 percent; for Resolute FP Canada, Ltd., 12.82 percent; for Tolko Marketing and Sales Ltd. and Tolko Industries Ltd., 19.50 percent; and, for West Fraser Mills, Ltd., 24.12 percent. Commerce established a preliminary subsidy rate of 19.88 percent for all other producers/exporters in Canada.”
While this tariff will surely be good news for US Lumber suppliers, Canada is unsurprisingly disgruntled by the decision. There’s been a longstanding dispute with regards to US and Canada lumber trade, because Canada’s lumber is largely owned by provincial governments, according to Bloomberg. This arrangement allows each province to establish their own prices, giving them the opportunity to subsidize the industry and effectively lowering the cost of the lumber that’s exported. US suppliers say the subsidies give Canadian lumber companies an unfair advantage. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland have vowed to defend the Canadian softwood industry and sue, if needed.
All tariff rates are currently preliminary and a final countervailing duty determination is currently expected to be announced on September 7, 2017.
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.
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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.