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November 2014   




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Construction Employers Add 16,000 Jobs in September, 230,000 for the Year as Sector’s Unemployment Rate Declines To A Seven-Year Low
Construction employers added 16,000 jobs and the sector’s unemployment rate fell to 7 percent, the lowest rate for September in years, according to an analysis released Oct. 3 by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said the construction employment gains come as more firms report having a hard time finding enough qualified workers to fill available positions, citing the lack of local vocational training programs, especially at the secondary level.

"While we are eager to see even more construction employment gains, there is no denying the fact that the industry has been in recovery mode for much of the past three years,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. "But the industry won’t be able to keep filling positions if there aren’t enough qualified workers available to fill them.”

Construction employment totaled 6,079,000 in September, the highest total since May 2009, with a 12-month gain of 230,000 jobs or 3.9 percent, Sandherr noted. Residential building and specialty trade contractors added a combined 11,800 employees since August and 129,400 (5.9 percent) over 12 months.

Nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors hired a net of 3,700 workers for the month and 100,300 (2.7 percent) since September 2013. However, heavy and civil engineering contractors, which perform the majority of public-sector construction, increased their headcount by only 500 in September and 29,000 (3.3 percent) over the year amid tight government budget conditions.

The number of workers who said they looked for work in the past month and had last worked in construction fell to 604,000 in September. The last time the number of unemployed construction workers dropped that low was August 2007, a time when the construction industry was struggling with widespread construction worker shortages that prompted project delays and increased costs, Sandherr cautioned.

Association officials said many firms cite the lack of local, secondary-level vocational programs as one of the causes for the worker shortages. As a result, association officials continued to urge federal, state and local officials to enact the series of measures the association identified in its Workforce Development Plan that will make it easier for school districts, local associations and private firms to establish career and technical education and training programs.

"Labor shortages happen when a growing industry meets a stagnant pool of qualified workers,” said Sandherr. "It is time to align our education and training systems with current economic conditions so more young people can benefit from the rebound in construction demand.”

OSHA Launches National Dialogue on Hazardous Chemical Exposures and PELs in the Workplace
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced it is launching a national dialogue with stakeholders on ways to prevent work-related illness caused by exposure to hazardous substances. The first stage of this dialogue is a request for information on the management of hazardous chemical exposures in the workplace and strategies for updating permissible exposure limits.

OSHA’s PELs, which are regulatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air, are intended to protect workers against the adverse health effects of exposure to hazardous substances. Ninety-five percent of OSHA’s current PELs, which cover fewer than 500 chemicals, have not been updated since their adoption in 1971. The agency’s current PELs cover only a small fraction of the tens of thousands of chemicals used in commerce, many of which are suspected of being harmful. Substantial resources are required to issue new exposure limits or update existing workplace exposure limits, as courts have required complex analyses for each proposed PEL.

"Many of our chemical exposure standards are dangerously out of date and do not adequately protect workers,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "While we will continue to work on updating our workplace exposure limits, we are asking public health experts, chemical manufacturers, employers, unions and others committed to preventing workplace illnesses to help us identify new approaches to address chemical hazards.”

OSHA is seeking public comment regarding current practices and future methods for updating PELs, as well as new strategies for better protecting workers from hazardous chemical exposures. Specifically, the agency requests suggestions on possible streamlined approaches for risk assessment and feasibility analyses, and alternative approaches for managing chemical exposures, including control banding, task-based approaches and informed substitution.

The comment period for the RFI will continue for 180 days. Instructions for submitting comments are available in the Federal Register, Docket No. OSHA-2012-0023, at https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-24009. For more information, visit the OSHA Chemical Management Request for Information Web page at www.osha.gov/chemicalmanagement/index.html.

IPAF Releases Half-Year Results for Accident Reporting Project
There were 23 fatalities worldwide involving mobile elevating work platforms, also known as aerial work platforms, in the first half of 2014, according to findings from the International Powered Access Federation’s accident database.

The main causes of these fatalities were overturn (9), fall from height (8), entrapment (3), electrocution (2), and technical/mechanical (1). Note: One of the entrapment fatalities involved a person on the ground being crushed between the base of the MEWP and another structure.

Eleven of the fatalities involved mobile booms (3b) and 10 involved static booms (1b). In two cases, the machine type is as yet unconfirmed.

Of these fatalities, 13 occurred in the United States, two in Germany, and one each in Australia, Austria, Columbia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom.

IPAF’s accident data is based on information collected in a number of ways: directly reported to the IPAF accident database at www.ipaf.org/accident, information obtained by IPAF staff worldwide, and information collated from press releases and news reports. The comprehensiveness of the data cannot be guaranteed, but where appropriate, action is taken to verify the facts. The data is updated should relevant information become available.

All manufacturers, rental companies, contractors and users are encouraged to report any known fatal and serious accidents involving mobile elevating work platforms and mast climbing work platforms worldwide at the IPAF accident database. The project is open to IPAF members and non-members, and includes an option for anonymous reporting. To register and to report an accident involving a MEWP or an MCWP, go to www.ipaf.org/accident

FMI Releases 2014 Compensation Analysis
In the most recent white paper released by FMI Oct. 14, author Mike Rose shares an analysis of more than 75,000 salary records for calendar year 2013. Annually, the firm conducts a series compensation survey covering approximately 280 positions for the engineering and construction industries.

Key takeaways from the white paper, "Post-Recession Transformations,” include the following:

• Professional pay indexes have increased more than 10 percent since 2008.

• Bonuses are down as much as 50 percent since 2008.

• The largest compensation increases for construction professionals have occurred in five job areas:

• Business development is up 16 percent since 2009.

• Project accounting is up 15 percent since 2009.

• Quality Assurance is up 15 percent since 2009.

• Estimating is up 11 percent since 2009.

• Building Information Modeling staff wages have risen 11 percent since 2009.

Go to www.fmiquarterly.com/2014/07/post-recession-transformations/ to download a copy of the white paper.

For more information, visit www.fminet.com.

World Insulation Demand to Reach 24.9 Billion Square Meters
Through 2018, global demand for insulation is projected to advance 5.0 percent annually to 24.9 billion square meters of R-1 value, a significant increase from the rate of the 2008–2013 period. In developing countries, rising building construction and industrial activity will lead to increased demand for insulation. In many high-income countries, insulation demand will rebound from downturns during the 2008-2013 period that were caused in part by sharp declines in housing construction. Government efforts, particularly in Western Europe, to reduce energy consumption will lead to the adoption of new building codes that require increased insulation usage. Of the major types of insulation, the foamed plastic insulation segment will post the fastest gains in value demand. These and other trends are presented in "World Insulation,” a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.

Strong growth in residential building construction activity will be the primary driver of demand worldwide. In North America demand for insulation in residential construction applications will grow 6.5 percent per year in R-1 value through 2018, due primarily to a partial recovery in housing construction in the United States. Rural-to-urban migration in developing countries in the Asia/Pacific, Africa/Mideast and Central and South America regions will stimulate building activity in urban areas and therefore insulation demand. Analyst Allison Blackburn notes that, "Rising per capita incomes will encourage the use of modern building techniques and materials, such as insulation.” Some countries in these areas are expected to adopt minimum insulation requirements for buildings, further contributing to demand gains. In the industrial, HVAC and OEM markets for insulation, demand will be driven by expanding manufacturing activity, appliance output and HVAC system installations.

The Asia/Pacific region is forecast to post the fastest growth in insulation demand through 2018, aided by advances in building construction activity as well as manufacturing and industrial output. Over 58 percent of new global insulation demand generated between 2013 and 2018 will be attributable to this region. Among the Asia/Pacific countries expected to post solid growth are China, India and Indonesia.

Four-Month Upturn Ends as Builder Confidence Falls in October
After four consecutive monthly gains, builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes fell five points to a level of 54 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, released Oct. 16.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as "good,” "fair” or "poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as "high to very high,” "average” or "low to very low.” Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

All three HMI components declined in October. The index gauging current sales conditions decreased six points to 57, while the index measuring expectations for future sales slipped three points to 64 and the index gauging traffic of prospective buyers dropped six points to 41.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast and Midwest remained flat at 41 and 59, respectively. The South rose two points to 58 and the West registered a one-point loss to 57.

People in the News
Gypsum Management and Supply, Inc., Tucker, Ga., has appointed Travis Hendren to serve as the vice president of mergers and acquisitions. In this newly formed role, Hendren will lead the identification and cultivation of potential acquisitions, as well as execution and integration of the acquisitions.

Cemco, Los Angeles, announced that Eric Larson has accepted the newly created position of director of business development for Cemco. Also announced is the promotion of Garret Koleszar to Southern regional sales manager, taking over for Larson as he embarks on his new responsibilities.

Larson, a 21-year veteran of Cemco, started as a sales representative responsible for the San Diego, Inland Empire and Mexican markets, later transitioning into the Southern regional sales manager for the past 12 years. Koleszar will replace Larson as SRSM after five years representing Cemco in the Arizona, New Mexico, El Paso and San Diego markets.

Rockfon®, Chicago, expands its North American team with the promotion of Tom Smith to business development manager, overseeing the complete offering of ceiling systems; Kirby Williams’ promotion to product manager of acoustic stone wool ceiling tiles, and the hiring of Jill Reninger as manager of construction services.

Smith leads new product development and project management for all of Rockfon’s product lines. He focuses on enhancing the company’s product assortment and supporting its strategic marketing efforts throughout North America.

Williams works closely with customers and colleagues to provide high-quality, competitive ceiling panel products that meet both aesthetic and performance requirements for their commercial interior projects. As Rockfon’s acoustic tile product manager, Williams will manage the company’s portfolio of stone wool acoustic ceiling solutions.

As Rockfon’s construction services manager for North America, Reninger is responsible for the company’s technical services and project management teams. She is based in Chicago.

Grabber Construction Products, Inc., an international distributor of professional-grade fasteners and construction products, announced that Roland Snyder, currently CFO, has been named president effective immediately. Snyder will continue to retain his CFO duties. Current president and CEO John (Jack) V. Kroll expands his chairman role and will retain CEO duties.

Snyder is a 25-year Grabber executive and a key leader in the company’s success. Snyder has been a member of the board of directors during his entire career at Grabber.

Kroll, a 37-year veteran, has been president and CEO of Grabber Construction Products, Inc. since 2009, and previously the former general manager of the Construction Products Division under private family ownership.

Companies in the News
California Drywall, an AWCI member company that is one of the largest specialty contractors in California, has been selected as the 2014 California Specialty Contractor of the Year by Engineering News-Record, the preeminent publication for the construction and engineering industry. The Specialty Contractor of the Year award is given to a subcontractor that is listed on ENR California’s regional Top Specialty Contractors List published each fall. ENR editors chose California Drywall based on its revenue performance, innovative construction and business practices, commitment to safety, and community involvement.

California Drywall employs more than 500 people in Northern California and has a roster of impressive projects in the region, including the CPMC Van Ness and Geary Campus, a 740,000 square foot, 274 patient bed, acute care hospital and Levi’s Stadium, which was completed earlier this year.

To learn more go to www.caldrywall.com.

AMES Taping Tools, a provider of automatic taping and finishing tools, supplies and training to the professional drywall finishing industry, announces the opening of its newest location in Ashland, Va.

The Ashland location brings AMES to 61 corporate stores and 56 franchise locations. Located at 11173 Leadbetter Rd., the new store provides rental service for their line of AMES’ automatic taping and finishing tools. The store also sells the company’s line of ATF tools as well as an assortment of associated drywall products, merchandise and hand tools.

Products in the News
ClarkDietrich, West Chester, Ohio, announces that its FastClip™ Slide clips and Extended FastClip Slide clips have achieved the Steel Framing Industry Association’s certification for manufacturing compliance. This designation certifies that ClarkDietrich’s clip and connector products bearing the SFIA compliance label are manufactured in accordance with an approved quality control program set forth by the association.

Manufacturers that participate in the SFIA program, titled "Manufacturing Compliance Certification Program for Connectors for Cold-Formed Steel Construction,” agree to comply with program requirements that govern the materials used to produce the connectors, protection against corrosion, manufacturing tolerances and marking requirements. A third-party administrator audits each manufacturing facility twice a year to ensure these standards are maintained.

New on the ’net
The Cold-Formed Steel Engineers Institute has redesigned its website, www.cfsei.org, to provide an updated look and easier access to information about its technology transfer tools and membership opportunities. The site also provides access to free downloadable AISI cold-formed steel design standards.

Knaack®, Crystal Lake, Ill., has launched a new website that includes improved navigation, filtering functionality and online question and review capabilities. The site is designed to better help customers select and purchase Knaack® products.

To learn more visit www.knaack.com.

Simpson Strong-Tie, Pleasanton, Calif., has launched a promotional "Power Break” campaign to encourage construction industry professionals to power through their workday by following the company on Facebook.

To kick off its "Power Break” campaign, Simpson Strong-Tie is sponsoring a sweepstakes promotion on Facebook that features a prize package that includes Bosch tools, the Simpson Strong-Tie Workbench/Shelving Hardware Kit and a coffee break for the winner and 50 coworkers.

The contest is open to anyone in the United States who works in the construction industry, including contractors, builders, lumberyard dealers, architects, engineers and building inspectors.

Contest details and the entry form are on the Simpson Strong-Tie Facebook page, www.facebook.com/strongtie. Participants can enter the contest daily until it ends Nov. 14. The prize package is valued at more than $1,800. One winner will be selected after the contest closes.

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