It’s been a tumultuous year between several governmental agencies and businesses alike and, because of that, both sides have been repeatedly put into a state of limbo. Three new major rule changes have made headlines, especially in the construction industry, this year, including an injury and illness record keeping and reporting rule, a “blacklisting” rule, and an overtime pay rule.
The overtime pay rule, a directive of President Obama, was supposed to go into effect this week, on December 1, but a Texas judge has recently issued an injunction against the rule, preventing it from being carried out.
The new overtime rule would have potentially impacted around 4.2 million workers throughout the United States, as it intended to raise the minimum salary threshold of workers who are exempt from receiving overtime pay from $23,660 to $47,476. That means if a salaried worker works makes less than $47,476 per year, they are entitled to overtime pay, one and a half times normal pay, for any hours worked over 40 in a single week. The rule was intended to either put more cash into workers’ pockets or allow them more free time outside of work.
Construction industry groups disagreed with the rule, because of the length of certain projects. “Construction projects often last longer than three years and are meticulously planned in order to stay on time and budget,” said Kristen Swearingen, ABC Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs, in a press release. “This rule will create uncertainty for contractors and their employees by forcing contractors to speculate about employees’ status years into the future when work on a project will actually be performed.”
The US Department of Labor believes that workers are being taken advantage of and not properly compensated for their long hours. They also believe the minimum salary amount for overtime pay is extremely out of date. Below is a short video produced by the DOL explaining the overtime rule. It’s clear that the rule would have a major effect on how many businesses operate, especially in the construction industry, due to many projects requiring long hours.
What do you think? Tell us in the comments.
A 2018 trench collapse in Colorado lead to the death of a construction worker named Rosario “Chayo” Martinez-Lopez. Now, his employer faces manslaughter charges for his death.
Drones have been heavily used by the construction industry in recent years for anything from progress photos, to employee tracking, or calculating the volume of on-site stockpiles. Now, a report from EHS Today says that OSHA plans to employ more drones to conduct site inspections of employer facilities.
Last fall, OSHA announced its intentions to explore updating the 2016 silica dust regulations that seemingly took the construction by storm. Their intent was to gain feedback on additional dust control methods that would be suitable for hazard control, as well as on additional tasks and equipment not currently covered by Table 1 in 29 CFR 1926.1153. Last week, they announced the next step they’re taking towards revisions.
The spring of 2019 saw 3 trench collapse deaths in a span of 10 days. One at a home construction site in Colorado, another during a culvert install in Marysville, Ohio, and a third at a residential site in Sugarcreek Township, Ohio. The latter has recently received a hefty fine and penalty from OSHA.
Last year, over 130 organizations petitioned OSHA to issue a heat protection standard, citing needs for mandatory rest breaks, PPE, hydration, and monitoring. On July 10, 2019, Representative Judy Chu of California introduced H.R. 3668 to meet the organizations’ request.
In 2017, President Trump signed an executive order expanding the role of apprenticeships in America, in hopes that it would help build the workforce in many skilled trades. In late June, the US Department of Labor (DOL) announced yet another expansion, but this time it left out the construction industry.
I’ve been very fortunate over the course of my relatively short career in construction to spend time focusing on many different aspects of construction. I recently spent about two and a half years working in site development and Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) compliance on a national scale and I wanted to share some of the insights that I gained from that experience.
Construction Junkie’s annual Best Construction Podcast Competition is underway for 2019 and the voting booth is officially open. As part of the contest this year, we will be highlighting one of the contest’s nominees each week. This week we highlight The Lien Zone Podcast (TLZ).
The lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedure has been one of the critical elements of electrical safety training on construction sites for a decade. Generally, it’s pretty simple: if you need to work on an energized circuit or piece of equipment, shut down the breaker, put a lock on it so no one can turn it back on, and place a tag on it with your information. OSHA is considering updating the standard now and is currently requesting information from interested parties.
As the United States just recently suffered another tragic and deadly construction incident involving civilians after a crane collapsed in Seattle over the weekend, we’re reminded that the bridge collapse on FIU’s campus in Miami in early 2018 still has many unanswered questions.