We invite and encourage you to share your news of interest with the CIC membership. Please contact Beverly Wittmeier at (605) 343-5252 or email: cic@constructionindustrycenter.com to submit your news.

GenPro Energy Solution Launches a Re-Designed Website

 

 

 

Solar Energy    LED Lighting    Solar Water   Blog    Contact   

 

GenPro Energy Solutions is proud to announce the launch of our freshly
re-designed website.


Our new website features a clean and modern design that has been aimed to improve the user experience.  It features a fully responsive design, made to adapt to a wide range of web browsers and mobile devices.

We’ve made great strides in creating a user-friendly website to make navigating our wide range of services simpler.


 

West Plains Engineering Expands Power Division to Wyoming

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For More Information
West Plains Engineering, Inc.
Marketing Director
(605) 348-7455

  

West Plains Engineering Expands Power Division to Wyoming

 

Casper, WY – West Plains Engineering is pleased to announce the expansion of its Power Engineering Division to Casper, Wyo. The Power Division specializes in transmission and distribution system design, substations, SCADA and load management; and will join WPE’s existing MEP engineers at 145 South Durbin, Suite 205.

 

Senior Electrical Engineer John Rickert will lead the division’s effort in Casper with 25 years of experience in consulting and utility power engineering.

 

The expansion means WPE can now better support rural and municipal utilities in the Wyoming and Colorado service area, while continuing to partner with clients in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska out of its Rapid City office.

 

To learn more about West Plains Engineering, visit westplainsengineering.com.

 

West Plains Engineering, Inc. (WPE) is a certified small business mechanical, electrical, plumbing and power engineering firm that has been designing reliable, resourceful and efficient systems for over 30 years. Our team spans five regional offices in Rapid City and Sioux Falls, SD; Bismarck, ND; Casper, Wyo. And Cedar Rapids, Iowa.; and our professional engineers maintain active registrations in more than 15 states.

 

NEWS MEDIA: For more information or to arrange an interview, please call Kelli Crouse, West Plains Engineering Marketing Director, at (605) 348-7455.

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Summer heat safety campaign begins.

 

OSHA has kicked off its summer campaign to inform employers and employees about the dangers of working in the heat. The campaign will continue its annual outreach to highlight how heat-related worker fatalities are entirely preventable. In 2014 alone, 2,630 workers suffered from heat illness and 18 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job.

On May 26, Kelly Schnapp, who directs OSHA's Office of Science and Technology Assessment, joined four other experts on a White House webinar highlighting the risks of extreme heat to four vulnerable populations: the elderly, athletes, emergency responders, and outdoor workers. Schnapp noted that a majority of recent heat-related deaths investigated by OSHA involved workers on the job for three days or less – highlighting the need for employers to ensure that new workers become acclimated to the heat when starting or returning to work. OSHA also provided heat safety tips for workers in a blog, Twitter posts, and an updated heat campaign webpage that now includes illustrations of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, an animated video, training resources, and links to an updated heat safety phone app. #WaterRestShade is the official hashtag of the campaign, encouraging employers to provide their workers with drinking water, ample breaks, and a shaded area while working outdoors. OSHA also continues to partner with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to raise awareness on the dangers of working in the heat through its Weather-Ready Nation campaign.

 

How to Survive an OSHA Audit

 
By Jim Rhoad
Ottawa Kent Insurance

"Hello. I’m from OSHA and I am here to help you." 
  
If you own or operate a business, chances are good you’ve heard these dreaded words before.  Next to, "Hello. I’m from the Internal Revenue Service," there are few greetings more inclined to make your knees weak. But it doesn’t have to be that bad.

Even with the seven million workplaces it covers each year, OSHA will most likely find its way to your location. When they do, here are some tips to help you survive your OSHA audit. 

Plan for an inspection by making sure you have three key items in place prior to the arrival of the OSHA compliance officer (CO): 
1. A determination if you will ask for a warrant; 
2. A form to document what occurs during the inspection; 
3. All pertinent documentation such as written programs, training records, inspection records, etc. 

We recommend you do not require the CO to obtain a warrant before entry unless you need to gain time, such as when a manager or counsel needs to be present. It is your legal right to ask for a warrant but this might trigger a stricter audit (and raise possible red flags).  It’s wiser if you simply work with the inspector. Answer questions honestly and fully, but don't offer additional information unless it will help you avoid citations. Cooperate as long as the inspector remains ethical and reasonable. 

Be prepared. These inspections are without notice so you will want to have all information readily available in anticipation of an impending audit. Here are some items to have prepared:
  • Assignment of responsibilities, to include a "greeting team" to meet the CO
  • Documented training logs
  • Recordkeeping
  • Equipment inspection records
  • Safety and health policies
  • Review of insurance and third-party audits
  • Hazard assessment and abatement
  • Review of previous audits and citations.
     It is also wise to have a form available to record the inspector's actions and comments during the inspection. This information will help you understand what transpired and will assist your attorney should you contest the citation or penalty.  Items you should record on this form include: 
  • The inspector's name and office telephone number 
  • The documents that the inspector reviewed and copied 
  • The attendees at the opening and closing conferences 
  • The areas that were inspected 
  • The employees and union representatives who participated 
  • The dates and times when the inspector was onsite 
Almost all OSHA inspections begin with a review of written documents. These documents include your injury and illness records, safety manual, OSHA-required programs, OSHA-implied programs, safety procedures, and training records. There are many records and written programs that OSHA does not specifically require to be in writing, but you should have them anyway. These documents are referred to as OSHA-implied records. For example, although OSHA requires every employer to conduct frequent ladder inspections, there is no specific requirement to keep a written record of ladder inspections. The written record in this case could be a log of all ladders with initials and dates of inspection or a tag attached to the ladder with spaces for the inspector to initial and date. 

Just to get you used to what you’re in store for, here's a mock OSHA audit walk through:

1. The knock at the door. We recommend escorting the CO to your office or waiting area. This will give you time to gather your documents and "greeting team" to accompany the CO through the inspection.

2. 
The opening conference. The officer will explain why OSHA selected your workplace for inspection and describe the scope of the inspection. Have your "greeting team" here to accompany the CO during the inspection. Make sure you set ground rules for the inspection, get a copy of the complaint if applicable, treat the CO in a professional fashion, coordinate with onsite contractors and vendors, bring up any trade secret issues you may have, but DON’T volunteer any information unless asked.

3. 
The walk-around/inspection.  Make sure you have an employee representative attend the entire inspection and take accurate notes on areas reviewed and all discussions and comments from the CO, as well as any photos, videos, air monitoring, etc. Keep in mind whatever is in the CO’s sight is subject to inspection. But maintain control. Remember, it’s your facility and you have rights. But don’t try to talk your way out of an apparent hazard. It will not help and probably make it worse. And above all, don’t destroy evidence. The CO may also want to interview employees. Make sure to schedule these away from your work area. It’s up to your hourly employees if they want company representation during the interview. Advise the employee of his/her rights, your appreciation of their cooperation, and to tell the truth. Be aware that employees do have whistleblower rights. As for management and supervisor interviews, always have another management/counsel present during the interview. If there is a fatality investigation your attorney should always be present. No tape recording is permitted and you will need a signed statement upon completion. 

4. The closing conference. During the closing conference the CO will review any apparent violations and discuss possible methods for correcting the violations within a reasonable time period. The CO will explain that the violations found may result in a citation and a proposed financial penalty, then describe the employer’s rights and answer all questions. Remember, this is not a time for debate. The law requires OSHA to issue citations for safety and health standards violations. The citations include:
  • A description "with particularity" of the violation
  • The proposed penalty if any
  • The date by which the hazard must be corrected
Citations are usually prepared at the local OSHA office and mailed to the employer via certified mail. OSHA has up to six months to send a Notice of Penalty. Employers have 15 working days upon receipt to file an intention to contest OSHA citations, and/or to request an informal conference with the area director to discuss any citations issued. Common causes to dispute citations include:
  • The citation is false
  • The citation’s dollar penalty is excessive
  • You disagree with the citation’s contention that the danger was real, serious, and that an accident was likely to occur
  • The contention that you are responsible for causing the unsafe conditions
Finally, contesting may not relieve you completely of a penalty, but it may help you negotiate a lesser fine. Contesting is usually a good idea. OSHA typically negotiates with employers to a lesser penalty amount.

There is no way to avoid an OSHA audit, much like there is no way to avoid having a root canal. But similarities aside, you can lessen the pain by being well-prepared. 

Jim Rhoad is an outsource risk manager with Ottawa Kent Insurance, Jenison, Mich. He has experience in dealing with workers' compensation issues across all industries, including construction and manufacturing. He can be reached at Jrhoad@ottawakent.com.


 

 

 

Building Buzz

 

Building Buzz

Whats the buzz at your job site?????

We would like to highlight the projects going on in the CIC Community. Please allow us to visit your project site so we can share your hard work and progress.

Click Here to see the newest Project Highlights

 

Balancing Lagging and Leading

In past Informers we've presented the difference between lagging and leading indicators, as well as the benefits of managing with leading indicators. There is no doubt about the effectiveness of managing with leading indicators, but is it realistic? What are the top construction companies doing to manage safety.

 The law firm Fisher & Phillips LLC Workplace Safety and Catastrophe Management Practice Group recently conducted a survey of Associated General Contractors' members on this topic. The findings of the survey were published on EHS Today's website this month. The full article can be read here.

 It is not surprising to learn that many of the respondents use leading indicators, but are forced to report lagging indicators to prove safety performance to potential clients. As much as we've stressed the use of leading indicators, it is important to note that lagging indicators may represent the success of a company's safety program. Then again, the numbers may be the result of luck.

 Either way balancing your safety management of lagging and leading indicators is a profitable endeavor. In safety management, success comes from a full-orbed perspective, which comes from an accurate understanding of both lagging and leading factors.

 

Workers' Compensation

 

The Other Factors in Your Business Bottom Line

by:  SD Division of Insurance

 

 

Workers' Compensation has not experienced the significant regulatory changes that have affected other lines of insurance.  However, it continues to be an area generating a lot of questions from employers and those in the industry.  Some of the more commonplace questions are in the areas of audit, interchange of labor rules, independent contractors, and election/rejection of coverage by owners and executive officers of the business.  

 

Payroll calculations are frequently an area of dispute, particularly when an audit results in an upward adjustment in payroll.  Payroll is a broad term and includes compensation in many forms including but not limited to bonuses, lodging and meals provided as part of the compensation (as opposed to reimbursement of extra expenses such as travel), employer merchandise provided, or other non-monetary considerations.  Pay for jury duty, holidays, vacations, and sick leave are excluded from payroll provided the adequate records are kept.  

 

A common question is whether a person is considered an independent contractor as opposed to an employee.  The method the department uses to make this determination involves a test using multiple factors.  Those factors used in determining whether a person is an employee include the extent to which the employer controls the work performed and when it is performed, the method of compensation used, what tools and equipment are furnished, and whether the person can work for others.  Inevitably, the determination as to whether someone is an independent contractor as opposed to an employee is driven by the individual facts of the situation.

 

Interchange of labor is permissible under certain circumstances.  As is the case with payroll, proper documentation is key to any determination that an interchange of labor is allowed.  Records need to detail each affected employee's time, payroll, and classification.  

 

Additionally in order for interchange of labor to apply, the affected employees cannot be accurately incorporated into an existing classification code.  

 

Not everyone needs to be provided with Workers' Compensation coverage.  A sole proprietor or the partners of a business may choose to elect the coverage, but unless elected, they are automatically excluded.  Likewise, executive officers of corporations can reject Workers' Compensation coverage if written notice is provided.  If no written notice is provided, the executive officers are included in the coverage.   

Economic Stimulus - Made in America

A recent report by ABC News regarding a home in Bozeman, Montana that is being constructed completely with American made materials notes that if every construction job used just 5% more products that are Made in America over 200,000 jobs would be created. 

 

If you are a local manufacturer or supplier you might be interested in this Made in America movement to promote your business. If you are a Construction Firm you may be interested in using local and American Made manufacturers and suppliers to help stimulate the economy in your area as well as our country.  There are many websites promoting American Made Products that you can contact.  

 

Here’s the link to the ABC News story and a sampling of links to sites with American Made stories and product lists.  If you are a manufacturer, most of these sites allow you to add your company information to their product lists.  Construction Industry Center does not necessarily endorse this movement or any particular site listed below. This compilation of sites we found while surfing the web is simply meant for informational purposes only.

Stories

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/Economy/made-america-blueprint-creating-jobs/story?id=14719487#.TzVvFsWJfNU

http://theallamericanhome.com/

http://www.builderonline.com/business/made-in-america-builders-create-their-own-stimulus-plan.aspx

http://americanmadebuildingproducts.org/

 

Product List

 

http://www.b4usa.com/category/building-construction/

  http://americansworking.com/buildingmaterial.html

  http://www.usaonly.us/Category/3/business-industrial-construction/42/building-materials.aspx 

http://www.americansworking.com/sdbuilding.html

  http://www.buyusmadeproductstoday.com/buildingmaterial.html

http://americanmadebuildingproducts.org/