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January 2015   

New OSHA Reporting Requirements Start Jan. 1


By:

Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, there will be a change to what covered U.S. employers are required to report to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Employers will now be required to report all work-related fatalities within 8 hours and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations and losses of an eye within 24 hours of finding about the incident.

Previously, employers were required to report all workplace fatalities and when three or more workers were hospitalized in the same incident.

The updated reporting requirements are not simply paperwork but have a life-saving purpose: They will enable employers and workers to prevent future injuries by identifying and eliminating the most serious workplace hazards, according to OSHA.

Employers have three options for reporting these severe incidents to OSHA. They can call their nearest area office during normal business hours, call the 24-hour OSHA hotline at (800) 321.OSHA, or they can report online at www.osha.gov/report_online. For more information and resources, including a new YouTube video, visit OSHA’s webpage on the updated reporting requirements.

Employers under federal OSHA’s jurisdiction must begin reporting by Jan. 1. Establishments in a state with a state-run OSHA program should contact their state plan for the implementation date.

Pace Slows but Positive Outlook Continues for Architecture Billings Index
Headed by the continued strength in the multifamily residential market and the emerging growth for institutional projects, demand for design services continues to be healthy as exhibited in the latest Architecture Billings Index. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects reported the October ABI score was 53.7, down from a mark of 55.2 in September. This score reflects an increase in design activity (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 62.7, following a mark of 64.8 the previous month.

The AIA has added a new indicator measuring the trends in new design contracts at architecture firms that can provide a strong signal of the direction of future architecture billings. The score for design contracts in October was 56.4.

"Though it has been slow in emerging, we’re finally seeing some momentum develop in design activity for nonprofits and municipal governments, and as such we’re seeing a new round of activity in the institutional sector,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, Ph.D. "It will be interesting to see if and how the results of the mid-term Congressional and gubernatorial elections impact this developing momentum.”

Key October ABI highlights include the following:

• Regional averages: South (58.4), West (56.1), Midwest (54.4), Northeast (47.0).

• Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (56.9), multifamily residential (54.7), institutional (54.4), commercial/industrial (52.3).

• Project inquiries index: 62.7.

• Design contracts index: 56.4.

Builder Confidence Drops One Point in December
Following a four-point uptick last month, builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes fell one point in December to a level of 57 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, released Dec. 15, 2014.

"Members in many markets across the country have seen their businesses improve over the course of the year, and we expect builders to remain confident in 2015,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.

"After a sluggish start to 2014, the HMI has stabilized in the mid-to-high 50s index level trend for the past six months, which is consistent with our assessment that we are in a slow march back to normal,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "As we head into 2015, the housing market should continue to recover at a steady, gradual pace.”

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.

Two of the three HMI components posted slight losses in December. The index gauging current sales conditions fell one point to 61, while the index measuring expectations for future sales dropped a single point to 65 and the index gauging traffic of prospective buyers held steady at 45.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the West rose by four points to 62 and the Northeast edged up one point to 45, while the Midwest registered a three-point loss to 54 and the South dropped two points to 60.

Dodge Momentum Index Moves Higher in November
The Dodge Momentum Index increased in November, climbing to 125.0 (2000=100) for the month, up 0.6 percent from October’s reading of 124.3 according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The Momentum Index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. After retreating from July through September, the Momentum Index has now registered gains for two consecutive months, indicating that the nonresidential building market continues to trend upward even with the occasional setback. The Momentum Index is now 14 percent above the same month a year ago, and is at its highest level since early 2009.

The November rise in the Momentum Index was the result of greater planning activity in the commercial sector, which rose 4.0 percent for the month. The increase for the overall index was held back, however, by a 3.8 percent drop in planning activity for the institutional sector. There were three commercial building projects exceeding $100 million that entered into planning during the month: the $232 million Bridgestone America Office Tower in Nashville, a $200 million mixed-use development in Eatonville, Fla., and the $100 million Turning Stone Retail & Entertainment Venue in Verona, N.Y.

Housing Production Falls 1.6 Percent in November
Housing starts in November slipped 1.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.028 million units, according to newly released figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. Three-month moving averages for total and single-family production were at their highest levels since the Great Recession.

"These numbers are in line with our latest surveys, which show that single-family builders are confident that the market is gradually recovering,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.

"Over the course of the year, the number of houses under construction has been on an upward trajectory, signaling that housing is moving forward,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "With strong demand, affordable home prices and favorable interest rates, we should see housing production continue to grow into 2015.”

Single-family housing starts were down 5.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 677,000 units in November, while multifamily production rose 6.7 percent to 351,000 units.

Regionally in November, combined housing production increased in the Northeast, Midwest and West, with respective gains of 8.7 percent, 14.4 percent and 28.1 percent. Total production dropped in the South by 19.5 percent.

Issuance of building permits registered a 5.2 percent loss to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.035 million units in November. Multifamily permits dropped 11 percent to 396,000 units while single-family permits slipped 1.2 percent to 639,000 units.

Regionally, the Northeast posted an overall permit gain of 27.4 percent. The Midwest, South and West registered respective losses of 7.3 percent, 10 percent and 5.6 percent.

One Million PAL Cards Issued

IPAF has issued the one millionth ever PAL Card (Powered Access License or Powered Access Licensed- Registration in North America) under its voluntary, industry-led operator training program, which is certified by TÜV as conforming to ISO 18878.

To celebrate the one millionth PAL Card ever issued, IPAF is calling all valid PAL Card holders to enter a draw for some amazing prizes. The PAL Card expires after five years and there are currently more than 500,000 valid PAL Cards worldwide.

There will be five top prizes for verified operators to win a free trip to the access event of the year, the IPAF Summit and International Awards for Powered Access—flight, accommodation and gala dinner included. This event will be held March 25–26, 2015, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va. Details can be found at www.iapa-summit.info.

All valid PAL Card holders are invited to enter the draw by verifying their PAL Card at www.ipaf.org/checkpal.

The competition closes Jan. 26, 2015. The winners will be announced Feb. 1, 2015.

5 Maddening Phrases That Can Cost You in Construction Contracts
You may face an uphill legal battle if you enter a construction contract without paying careful attention to every detail. Insurance carriers are implementing restrictive additional insured endorsements that inhibit the ability of owners and general contractors to transfer contributory negligence. In response, owners and general contractors have toughened the insurance requirement language in their construction contracts.

"There is a wide array of words and phrases that trip people up when looking at the insurance requirements in construction contracts,” said Diane Bureman, senior vice president and senior account executive with Lockton Companies (www.lockton.com). "It is important that the insurance terms addressed in the construction contract are completely clear and ones with which you can comply.”

In her white paper, "5 Maddening Phrases That Can Cost You in Construction Contracts” (http://tinyurl.com/jvr5dy6), Bureman discusses the main confusing culprits by providing information to help navigate around these potential legal landmines:

Additional Insured vs. Additional Named Insured. "Additional Insured” limits incidents related just to your work. "Additional Named Insured” could cost you coverage for liabilities and/or exposures beyond your control.

Maintain vs. Provide. "Maintain” provides insurance covering the time frame agreed upon in the contract. "Provide” may force you to implement a Controlled Insurance Program or purchase Project-Specific Insurance.

Notice Requirements. Notice of cancellation is rarely provided by insurance companies. Contractors may agree to provide notice of change, modification or nonrenewal if they want to assume this responsibility.

Subject to Policy Terms, Conditions and Exclusions. It is important to understand that your policies may not be as broad in coverage as you, or the contract draftee, might anticipate. Contractual liability coverage is subject to policy terms, conditions or exclusions.

Aggregate Limits. This describes the maximum dollar amount the insurer will pay to settle all claims arising from incidents that occur during the policy period. However, the standard Commercial General Liability policy usually includes two different types with two different meanings: the General Aggregate and the Products/Completed Operations Aggregate.

While these five phrases represent a small number of the many issues that may present themselves with reviewing a construction contract, it is important to never make assumptions when insurance requirements are unclear.

"Every word and punctuation mark in a contract counts, so read everything literally,” advises Bureman. "The best way to ensure you are properly covered is by verifying the insurance requirements with an insurance broker or legal counsel with an in-depth knowledge of the intricacies of construction and insurance before moving forward.”

Continental Building Products Mourns the Sudden Loss of Isaac Preston, President and Chief
Continental Building Products, Inc., Herndon, Va., announced that Isaac Preston, president and chief executive officer, passed away Nov. 25, 2014. He was 54 years old.

"We are profoundly saddened by the passing of Ike Preston and our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” said Bradley P. Boggess, a member of the board of directors. "In addition to being a valued friend and colleague, Ike was an outstanding and well respected leader who will be sorely missed. Ike built a strong legacy and we will forever be grateful for his many contributions, both personally and professionally.”

Pursuant to a succession and contingency plan adopted by the board of directors previously, the board has appointed Jay Bachmann, Continental’s senior vice president and chief financial officer, as interim chief executive officer, effective immediately.

People in the News
Armstrong World Industries, Inc., Lancaster, Pa., announced that Gregory P. Spivy, a partner at ValueAct Capital, will become a member of the Armstrong board of directors effective Dec. 15, 2014. The size of the Armstrong board of directors was increased from 11 to 12 prior to Spivy’s appointment.

Spivy has been a partner of ValueAct Capital for 10 years. He currently serves as the chairman and a director of Seitel, Inc. He is the former chairman of MSD Performance, Inc. and a former director of KAR Auction Services, Inc., MDS, Inc., MSC Software Corp. and PRA International.

Master Wall Inc.® announces the following personnel additions and changes:

Jeff Knight has joined Master Wall West® in the position of Western regional sales manager. Knight has 10 years’ experience in the EIFS and stucco Industry. His territory includes the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, California and New Mexico.

Brad Summerall has accepted the position of plant manager at the company’s new plant in Sealy, Texas. He has been a longtime employee of Master Wall® with 14 years’ experience in operations.

Greg Wright has been promoted to operations manager. He will be managing the production operations in Georgia, Utah and Texas. He has run MasterWall’s Lithonia plant for the past eight years.

Grant Smithwick has been promoted to national sales manager. He will be managing the company’s sales team.

Steven Smithwick has been promoted to national product services manager. He will be managing the following departments and processes: research and development, quality control, color matching and sample production.

Companies in the News
Hunter Douglas Ceilings has further expanded its facility in Norcross, Ga., (see photo on page 14) adding equipment and operational footprint to meet growing interest in its line of metal ceilings and wall systems. The 40 percent expansion brings the facility’s operating space up to 100,000 square feet.

MiTek Industries announces the formation of its MiTek Builder Products division, which has been created to unify its growing list of products and services offered to the residential and commercial construction sectors.

A division of MiTek USA, the MiTek Builder Products division integrates a number of businesses, building products and brands that MiTek has assembled after a series of acquisitions.

With the launch of the MiTek Builder products division, the company will continue to invest in the expansion of its software, manufacturing, customer services, product support and education, all of which tightly integrates the division’s products to deliver a better building process and optimized structures for builders.

New on the ’net
Rockfon, Chicago, introduces a new YouTube channel for North American audiences seeking inspirational and informative videos about ceiling systems’ design, installation and production. e.

The channel launches with more than a dozen of one- to two-minute videos showcased as four playlists.

Rockfon invites viewers to login on YouTube to subscribe to the channel, create their own playlists for future reference, and to like and share their favorites with their colleagues. New videos will be added regularly. Viewers can connect directly to the YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/ROCKFONNorthAmerica, or by clicking the icon at the bottom left corner of Rockfon.com. Installation videos also can be found under this section of the ROCKFON website.

What’s App, Doc?
Snagajob, America’s largest hourly employment marketplace for job seekers, announces the release of its free app for iOS and Android, designed to meet the unique needs of those seeking to hire construction workers, builders or contractors for hourly employment. The free app makes the job posting/hiring process easier than ever by using a smartphone’s or tablet’s video, photo and GPS technology. Employers can currently post jobs for free via the app’s free trial promotion.

Snagajob for iOS can be downloaded on the App Store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/snagajob-for-employers/id731508851?mt=8 and for Android on Google Play at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.snagajob.hiring.

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