COVID-19 AND THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

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What You Should Know About Fall Protection Rescue

Occupational Health & Safety Magazine cites fall protection rescue as the most commonly overlooked aspect of fall protection, with even the most prepared and proactive companies minimizing the importance of a rescue plan and rescue training. Employers should always remember that, under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, a fall arrest system necessitates a rescue plan and rescue training. 

In this article, a roofing lawyer in Illinois will discuss the factors involved in creating a rescue plan, choosing the correct fall protection equipment, and providing appropriate rescue training for authorized workers. Only a combination of these aspects will ensure the necessary fall protection for your workers.

Rescue Plan

Under OSHA standard 1926.502(d)(20), employers are required to “provide for prompt rescue of employees in the event of a fall or shall assure that employees are able to rescue themselves.” This should include written rescue procedures for all active fall protection systems and corresponding rescue training. These procedures should address the potential for trauma during the rescue and how a worker will be handled to avoid any post-rescue injuries. OSHA provides a rescue plan checklist for employers:

  • Determine who will be performing the rescue and the necessary level of training
  • Understand the type of rescue that will be performed
  • Determine if the rescuers will be on-site or stand-by and their corresponding response time
  • Perform a safety analysis of the rescue.

Related: OSHA Fall Protection Plan

Rescue Equipment

The types of fall arrest systems and rescue procedures being used on your jobsite will ultimately determine what kind of fall protection equipment will be necessary. The type of rescue equipment is important to take into consideration, as it will determine the location of the worker after the fall and the risks which may occur while suspended. The OSHA rescue plan checklist recommends that the following rescue equipment and supplies be readily available on site:

  • Rolling edge protectors to protect the rope from abrasion and sharp edges
  • Designated anchor points for rescue equipment
  • Anchor straps and carabiners to create an anchor point when one is not readily available
  • Rescue devices able to raise or lower a worker
  • Ropes and lifelines for rescue and evacuation
  • First aid kit and defibrillator 

Related: All About Anchor Points

Rescue Training

In accordance with OSHA standards 29 CFR 1915.159 and 29 CFR 1926.503, employers are required to train workers how to use fall protection equipment and fall arrest systems. Any workers who may perform rescue procedures or wear fall arrest devices while working should undergo rescue system training. This training will involve hands-on demonstrations of a number of rescue scenarios and corresponding rescue procedures to ensure the authorized worker is confident in performing safe rescues from any heights and locations they may be working at.

OSHA’s Safety and Health Information Bulletin on Suspension Trauma/Orthostatic Intolerance also outlines that workers be trained in:

  • How suspension trauma or orthostatic intolerance may occur
  • The factors which can increase a worker’s risk
  • How to recognize the signs and symptoms of suspension trauma
  • The appropriate rescue methods to dimension risk during suspension

If you would like to speak with a roofing attorney in Illinois regarding fall protection, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Falls account for the largest number of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry and frequently involve breach of ladder regulations. In order to prevent fall-related injuries and fatalities and potential OSHA citations, it is important to provide ladders that are appropriate for the task and capable of withstanding the weight of the worker. Below, a roofing lawyer in Illinois who is highly knowledgeable of OSHA ladder regulations will go over the variety of factors involved in choosing the appropriate ladder for your jobsite.

Ladder Type

Using the wrong type of ladder on your jobsite is not only inefficient but dangerous. One of the leading causes of ladder accidents is using the wrong ladder. To avoid potential fall-related injuries or fatalities, it is important to choose the right type of ladder for your project. OSHA divides ladders into two main categories, portable and fixed, under which a plethora of different types of ladders can be found from extension ladders and platform ladders to basic step ladders and multi-position ladders. OSHA ladder requirements differ based on what type of ladder you will be using, so it’s important to keep track of the standards associated with each type.

Related: 4 Mistakes Roofers Make on Ladders 

Ladder Height

Ladder height is an important factor in the consideration process because it involves further OSHA ladder regulations regarding fall protection. While fall protection is not required for workers climbing or working on portable ladders, it must be provided for workers climbing or working on fixed ladders that equal or exceed 24 feet. When choosing an extension ladder, you must make sure that the ladder is seven to 10 feet longer than the highest contact point with the highest standing level at four rungs down from the top of the ladder. The highest standing level on a stepladder must be two steps from the top of the ladder. All of these regulations are important as they help to prevent workers from losing their balance and falling off of the ladder. 

Related: Portable Ladders and Fall Protection

Ladder Material

Ladder material is a factor often overlooked; however, each type of material has characteristics that make it better suited for certain tasks or user preferences. Aluminum ladders are easier to maneuver given the material’s lighter weight, but they also conduct electricity and should not be used near electrical lines. Fiberglass ladders are durable and don’t conduct electricity when clean and dry. Prior to choosing a ladder, consider which material is best suited to the needs and preference of your jobsite. 

Ladder Duty Rating

The last aspect to consider when choosing the right ladder for your jobsite is duty rating or load capacity. The duty rating is the maximum weight capacity a ladder can safely handle, including the weight of the worker and the weight of any tools needed for the job. Most ladders fall under the following five ladder ratings:

  • Type IAA: load capacity of 375 pounds
  • Type IA: load capacity of 300 pounds
  • Type I: load capacity of 250 pounds
  • Type II: load capacity of 225 pounds
  • Type III: load capacity of 200 pounds

If your jobsite has received an OSHA citation for ladder regulations or you have concerns regarding ladder requirements on your jobsite, a roofing lawyer in Illinois is prepared to assist you.

If you would like to speak with an experienced attorney about OSHA ladder regulations, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Many contractors elect to work in neighboring states as a foreign limited liability company (LLC) in order to stay competitive in the industry and pursue highly lucrative projects. In order to successfully and lawfully operate within the borders of Florida, out-of-state contractors must become familiar with Florida’s laws and insurance requirements for contractors.

In this article, we will discuss what out-of-state contractors need to know about roofing insurance in Florida and how it could impact their next roofing contract. For assistance handling disputes stemming from roofing insurance or contracts, consult an attorney experienced with the needs of roofing contractors from Cotney Construction Law. 

Workers’ Compensation 

Out-of-state contractors can either use the insurance policy from their home state or obtain a Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance policy with a Florida approved insurance carrier which meets the requirements of Florida Insurance Code. If you decide to use an out-of-state policy, you must contact your insurance company and request that Florida be added to “Section 3.A.” of the policy. 

If you do not have Florida added to your out-of-state policy or obtain Florida workers’ compensation and your workers’ compensation insurance is from one of the states listed here, you will be able to operate in Florida for no more than 10 consecutive days or 25 days total out of the year under an extraterritorial reciprocity clause. Failure to meet these requirements will result in a Stop-Work Order, requiring a cessation to all Florida business operations, as well as a penalty for two times the amount the business would have paid in workers’ compensation premium during the time it was out of compliance for up to two years.

Related: What Types of Insurance Should Roofers Have and Why?

General Liability

Before a contractor can become licensed in the state of Florida, they must show proof of obtaining general liability insurance. The minimum general liability insurance that a contractor must carry is $300,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for property damage. General liability insurance for Florida contractors is designed to protect your business from operations that result in damage to a third party. Covered claims can include property damage, personal injury, and advertising injury. 

Failure to obtain general liability insurance can result in hefty fines as well as the suspension of your license. Additionally, without general liability insurance, your business will not be protected from claims resulting from property damage, personal injury, or advertising injury. If you are ever involved in a lawsuit regarding property damage or personal injury during your roofing contract, contact one of our Florida contractor lawyers.

Related: Are Roofing Insurance and General Liability Insurance the Same Thing?

Other Coverage Types

Other insurance types to consider include:

  • Commercial vehicle insurance: All Florida vehicles utilized in your roofing business, including cars, trucks, vans, or trailers should be covered under commercial vehicle insurance.
  • Tool and equipment floater: This form of insurance can be added on to your general liability insurance in order to provide protection for your equipment and tools. 
  • Professional liability insurance: If you recommend specific products to customers or regularly consult with clients, this insurance will protect your roofing business from legal claims should your advice or recommendations result in loss or damage for the client.

Many considerations are involved in the process of purchasing insurance for your roofing business, from which grade of worker’s compensation is necessary to cover your workforce to whether or not you will require additional insurance, such as professional liability or commercial vehicle insurance. Complying with the requirements of Florida law is necessary for contractors who want to operate lawfully within its borders and avoid costly fines and lawsuits. If you have been accused of operating in Florida without insurance or violating a workers’ compensation policy, consult Cotney Construction Law.

If you would like to speak with an experienced attorney about a roofing contract or roofing insurance, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reported 220 total crane-related fatalities from 2011 to 2015 with 42 percent of the fatalities taking place in the construction industry. Over half of these cases involved a worker being struck by equipment or an object, while the remaining cases involved transportation incidents or falls to a lower level. 

In this article, an OSHA attorney will provide a brief overview of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) crane and derricks standard and the steps to take to ensure that your jobsite is in compliance. 

Related: Crane Accidents and OSHA’s Response 

Assembly/Disassembly

Assembly/disassembly, with regards to OSHA standards, refers to the assembly and/or disassembly of any equipment covered under the standard. This process must be directed by the A/D director, or a person who meets the criteria for a qualified person and a component person. The A/D director will review the applicable procedures prior to the commencement of the assembly/disassembly and ensure that all crew members understand the following:

  • The tasks they will be performing
  • The hazards associated with the tasks
  • The hazardous positions and/or locations they should avoid

Power Line Safety

One of the major causes of crane accidents is crane contact with active power sources, such as energized power lines. To avoid potential encroachment and electrocution, a planning meeting should be conducted between the operator and any workers who will be in the area to review the location of any power lines and the steps implemented to prevent hazards. Additionally, the employer must train each operator and crew member assigned to work with the equipment on the procedures to follow in the event of electrical contact, the danger of the potentially energized zone, and the procedures to properly ground the equipment.

Operators, Signal Persons, and Riggers

There are many roles involved in the operation of a crane, including operators, signal persons, and riggers. For each of these roles, the employer must ensure that, prior to the operation of any equipment, the person is qualified and/or certified to perform their role. The qualification/certification process differs based on the role, so it’s important to recognize the differences. An operator must undergo a pre-qualification or certification training period in which they operate equipment as an operator-in-training before becoming an operator. A signal person must demonstrate their knowledge of the types of signals used and their competency in the application of these signals. A rigger must be qualified to perform any of the following tasks: hooking, unhooking, guiding a load, and assembly/disassembly of equipment. 

Following these standards along with performing routine annual and monthly inspections is the only way to protect your workers from potential harm and avoid receiving an OSHA citation. If you have received an OSHA citation or are concerned about whether or not your jobsite is in compliance with OSHA’s crane and derricks standard, contact our OSHA lawyers as soon as possible. 

If you would like to speak with one of our OSHA lawyers, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) identified 6,160 cases of blood lead levels (BLLs) ≥10 μg/dL in adults. Of the 6,160 cases, the construction industry accounted for 20 percent — a disproportionately high number given that the construction industry accounts for 6.4 percent of the workforce. 

Although the prevalence of construction workers with BLLs ≥10 μg/dL has continued to decline, a substantial number of construction workers still have alarming blood lead levels due to workplace exposure. In this article, an OSHA attorney will discuss the importance of complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) lead standard and how you can reduce the risk for lead exposure on your jobsite. 

Worker Exposure

Lead is found in a number of construction materials, including but not limited to electrical conduit, welding wire, roofing materials, cornices, tank linings, and paint. Construction workers can become exposed to lead during a number of processes, such as:

  • Handling and demolition of products containing lead
  • Abrasive blasting
  • Welding, cutting, and burning on steel structures
  • Rivet busting
  • Power tool cleaning
  • Removal of lead-based paint from structures

Construction workers are also at risk of exposing their family members to lead via take-home exposure found in lead dust on their clothing, hair, skin, or tools. 

Health Hazards

Lead exposure resulting in blood lead levels (BLL) even as low as 10 µg/dL has been associated with damage to the central nervous system, reproductive system, cardiovascular system, hematological system, and the excretory system. Lead exposure can be broken down into two categories: short-term (acute) overexposure and long-term (chronic) overexposure. Both forms of exposure are extremely dangerous and come with unique risks. 

Acute overexposure can cause a number of conditions from acute encephalopathy and cardiorespiratory arrest to coma and/or death. Chronic exposure can result in severe damage over time to the central nervous system as well as the excretory and reproductive systems.

OSHA’s Lead Standard 

OSHA’S lead standard for the construction industry (1926.62) requires employers to develop, implement, and maintain a worker protection program that minimizes workers’ risk to lead exposure on the jobsite. It sets a permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 micrograms of lead per cubic meter of air and action level (AL) of airborne concentration of 30µg/m3. Both are averaged over an eight-hour period. Other major aspects of the standard’s requirements include:

  • Employees exposed to high levels of lead must be enrolled in a medical surveillance program.
  • Employers must use engineering controls and work practices to reduce exposure.
  • Employees must observe good personal hygiene practices, especially before leaving the jobsite.
  • Employees must be provided with protective clothing and respiratory protection as necessary.

The information above is only a brief overview of OSHA’s regulations regarding lead exposure in construction. It is your responsibility as a contractor to ensure your workers are protected from potential hazards like lead that could lead to serious health concerns. If you are concerned about whether or not your jobsite is compliant with OSHA’s standard for lead in the construction industry, consult with one of our OSHA lawyers.

If you would like to speak with an OSHA attorney, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

As summer approaches, we wanted to briefly discuss the most important pieces of information contractors need to know about working in the scalding heat of the summer. The summer season in Florida hosts a myriad of problems for contractors, with unpredictable weather and soaring temperatures making any job a challenging process. 

Workplace accidents are also the most prevalent throughout the summer months, with a higher number of injuries sustained on a construction site than any other season. Our Florida OSHA defense attorneys are here to assist you with any questions or safety problems you may have year-round, including during the brutal summer months. 

Maintaining Safe Working Conditions

Safe working conditions are the contractor’s best form of defense against an OSHA citation. As the year goes on, some standards may be accidentally overlooked on the jobsite; however, they won’t be overlooked by a compliance officer from OSHA. Florida’s summers and the unpredictable weather that follows can make any jobsite unruly, but with the help of a Florida OSHA defense attorney, you can greatly reduce the chances of being issued a violation.

Related: 12 Unsafe Acts That Lead to Job Site Accidents

Here are a few of the common challenges of summertime safety practices:

Intermittent Weather

Intermittent thunderstorms make a construction site even more of an ever-changing workplace, where the jobsite can be damaged and workers can be put in danger if the necessary precautions were not put in place. If a storm is brewing, site managers need to ensure construction equipment is secured or tied down. Above all else, make certain the employee’s safety is top priority. After a storm has passed, there will be plenty of wet, slippery surfaces that can present dangerous working conditions, especially for workers working at great heights. In order to maintain an injury-free jobsite and ensure the safety of your workers, make sure all working surfaces are appropriately dried and inspect any equipment left out in the storm.

Related: Lightning Safety in Florida

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion on jobsites is a very serious issue, especially in climates known for their summer heat. Knowing the symptoms of heat exhaustion will help you prevent it from occurring on your jobsite. 

The first step contractors should take to help their employees avoid heat exhaustion is to supply an adequate amount of water and shaded areas to allow their employees to stay hydrated and cool down while on the job. Any worker exhibiting symptoms of dizziness, fatigue, headaches, or a cold sweat should immediately be told to stop their work and rest in a shaded area with access to plenty of cool water. The summer months are grueling for any hard labor job, and without taking the right precautions, you could be the target of an OSHA inspection or violation. Our Florida OSHA defense lawyers will help make sure you are represented against any OSHA violation you may encounter. 

If you would like to speak with a Florida OSHA defense lawyer, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout) consistently ranks in the top 10 most frequently cited standards by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) annually. Of the 4,779 worker fatalities in private industry occupations in 2018, 21.1 percent were in construction, where employees are frequently exposed to electrical hazards.

Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard 1910.147 prevents an estimated 50,000 injuries and 120 fatalities each year. In this article, a Texas OSHA lawyer will provide four tips for ensuring your lockout/tagout program is effective and your employees are protected. 

Use Lockout/Tagout Devices

Lockout and tagout devices are a crucial component of your program. Lockout devices are used for equipment that can be locked out, such as circuit breakers, plugs, and switches. The lockout device is held in place by a lock or combination and prevents the energizing of the corresponding machine.

Tagout devices are warning devices which are fastened to the energy isolating device to indicate the device and the equipment being controlled cannot be operated until the tagout device is removed. In order to comply with OSHA standards, ensure that any and all machines that may need lockout or tagout devices have the appropriate devices in place. Then, be sure to standardize and organize any devices. The lockout/tagout devices must be durable as well as capable of identifying the individual user.

Certify Employee Training is Up to Date

Retraining of lockout/tagout procedures is necessary for any authorized and affected employees under any of the following conditions:

  • Change in machines, equipment, or processes that presents a new hazard
  • Change in job assignment
  • Change in energy control procedures
  • Deviations or inadequacies in energy control procedures

When any of these conditions occur, it is of the utmost importance for employers to certify employees are retrained in order to establish new or revised control procedures. Records of employee training must be kept up to date and certified for the safety of your jobsite.

Ensure Your Procedures Are Machine-Specific 

Under OSHA’s lockout/tagout standards, any lockout/tagout procedures utilized on your jobsite must be specific to the machine or piece of equipment the procedure will apply to. In order to ensure your procedures are machine-specific, you need to include specific procedural steps and requirements for not only shutting down, isolating, and securing the machine but also how to test the machine to verify the effectiveness of any energy-control measures, such as lockout and tagout devices. 

Understand Who is Affected by Lockout/Tagout

Complying with OSHA’s lockout/tagout standard requires protecting each and every individual who may be involved with or present in the area during lockout/tagout procedures. All authorized employees should be trained in recognizing hazardous energy sources in the workplace and the methods for energy isolation and control. Employees who may be working in the area where the procedure is taking place should be informed about the procedure and consequences involved with attempts to restart or reenergize equipment that has been locked out or tagged out. When outside servicing personnel are engaged in lockout/tagout procedures, the on-site employer and outside employer should inform one another of their respective procedures.

As machines and operating procedures change over time, it is important to make sure your lockout/tagout program is up to date and reflective of these changes. If you have received an OSHA citation involving the lockout/tagout standard, contact one of our Texas OSHA defense lawyers as soon as possible.

If you would like to speak with a Texas OSHA lawyer, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

As of the time of this writing, the Washington Post reports that construction “has been deemed critical or essential in at least 16 states with business-closure orders.” Contractors in these states are no doubt pouring over their construction contracts, trying to decipher if their projects will remain on track in the coming months. Whether or not they emerge successful following the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will depend largely on the contents of these contracts. 

In this editorial, we discuss one of the most valuable provisions to have included in your contracts during this time: price acceleration provisions. These provisions are crucial for ensuring that companies like yours can cover costs, even while materials become increasingly scarce. For assistance with contract drafting and reviewing, a construction lawyer in Clarksville, TN, with Cotney Construction Law is standing by. 

These Provisions Will Become Increasingly Needed

In a recent New York Times article, Chris Heger, a vice president of a construction management firm based in Seattle, put the problem into context. “It’s not like when you build a house and can just go down to a Home Depot and get a different light fixture when you’re short.” Mr. Heger continued, “This stuff is all designed and planned years in advance.” 

What do you do when your project needs copper from China or marble from Italy? Although you may have smartly stockpiled materials on your current project (a best practice moving forward), what do you do when your company begins to feel the pinch of delays in materials? A construction attorney in Clarksville, TN, is here to provide you with the answers. 

Related: Construction Companies Report Experiencing Supply Chain Disruptions Due to Coronavirus

These Provisions Protect Your Company from “Acts of God” 

Similar to force majeure contract clauses, price acceleration provisions protect your company from the unexpected. Specifically, these provisions allow you to adjust the contract price to reflect actual project costs, so if your material costs suddenly rise, say from a global pandemic, you would be able to pass the cost along to owners, accordingly. Although these provisions generally apply to material costs, they can apply to labor costs in some instances — consult a construction law attorney in Clarksville, TN, for more details. 

Related: COVID-19: Answering Construction Firms Most Pressing Employment Questions About the Pandemic

These Provision May Provide an Escape Hatch

No contractor wants to abandon a project that could have been a success under normal circumstances. But now more than ever, you must do what you can to protect your company. In some instances, price acceleration provisions can contain a termination for convenience provision — an escape hatch — that allows a contractor to escape a contract if the price of materials rise dramatically or materials become difficult to find. 

Related: Is Construction an Essential Business? 

Of course, owners aren’t going to be thrilled about the inclusion of such a provision, which is why it’s so important to work with a construction lawyer in Franklin, TN, whenever you’re negotiating or drafting contracts. An attorney with our law firm can negotiate on your behalf to ensure that contract provisions necessary to protect your company are always included. 

Better Safe Than Sorry 

It’s only natural that the industry should change following this unprecedented outbreak. Going forward, it’s best that your company stockpiles materials prior to a project commencing. Review your construction contracts to ensure that they contain price acceleration provisions, force majeure clauses, and other key contract provisions needed to combat coronavirus. And finally, maintain accurate records to ensure that you can support any claims for additional compensation due to rising material costs. 

At Cotney Construction Law, we understand that the cost of having an attorney regularly review contracts may be too much of a burden for construction companies during this time. This is why we are offering unlimited contract review through our subscription plans at an affordable monthly rate. For a low monthly price, you can also have access to attorney on-demand, unlimited phone calls with CCL, unlimited demand letters, and client portal access, all at our lowest tier. 

Although a price acceleration provision is important to have in your construction contracts, it’s only one of many ways that your company can protect itself in the coming months. As the situation develops, we only hope that the construction industry can emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever, but until that time, it’s better to be safe than sorry. For a construction attorney in Franklin, TN, who will fight to protect your company from rising material costs and any construction-related legal issues, partner with an attorney from Cotney Construction Law. 

If you would like to speak with a construction law attorney in Franklin, TN, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

In the early hours of the morning, it was announced that the Senate passed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. Passed with a staggering vote of 96-0, the stimulus package is designed to provide needed relief for the millions of Americans affected by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The stimulus package would support everything from individuals and their families to airlines and hospitals. Notably, the stimulus package means that help is on the way for a struggling construction industry. 

In this editorial, we break down the contents of the $2 trillion stimulus package and discuss what it means for contractors and their workers. Although the package still needs to be voted on by the House, it can be expected to pass with similar support. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that the stimulus package “will rush new resources onto the front lines of our nation’s historic fight and it will inject trillions of dollars of cash into the economy as fast as possible to help American workers, families, small businesses and industries make it through this disruption and emerge on the other side ready to soar.”

At Cotney Construction Law, we are unwavering in our support of this industry. Our Colorado Springs construction law firm will remain at the forefront, ready to assist any construction company in need. If you need legal assistance during this difficult time, do not hesitate to contact a Colorado Springs construction litigation attorney for assistance. 

Emergency Loans for Small Businesses 

We begin by focusing on the companies that have the most to gain from the stimulus package: small businesses. If passed, the stimulus package would create a $367 billion loan program for businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Contractors can expect eight weeks of cash assistance to cover expenses, such as rent and worker salaries. Also included is $10 billion in Small Business Administration (SBA) emergency grants, up to $10 million per business. For businesses with existing SBA loans, $17 billion is being allocated to cover six months of payments. However, businesses that opt for the below tax credit will not qualify for special SBA loans. 

Related: Answering Construction Firms Most Pressing Employment Questions About the Pandemic

Businesses that Retain Workers

Employers who retain their workers during this crisis will have their loans forgiven. Additionally, employers would qualify for a tax credit if they retain idle workers, thereby taking a 50 percent loss compared to the same quarter from the previous year. Qualifying businesses would get a refund for wage costs, up to $5,000 per worker. 

Smaller construction companies must do everything in their power to save money as worker safety, project delays, and disputes become an increasing concern. Unfortunately, legal issues will only become more prevalent with the spread of COVID-19, which is why Cotney Construction Law is offering an affordable monthly subscription plan to construction companies in need. With a subscription plan, you can have access to an on-demand Colorado Springs construction lawyer who can help you keep your workers safe and keep your business running smoothly. 

Related: What the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Means for Construction Businesses

Emergency Loans for Larger Industries 

$500 billion will be allocated to larger industries, including $17 billion for “businesses critical to maintaining national security.” Although the Treasury Department will assign loans, an inspector general and oversight committee will be appointed to oversee how the money is allocated. We can only hope that this money comes fast enough for construction companies that are essential for maintaining our nation’s hospitals and infrastructure. 

For Employees and Unemployed Workers 

As an employer, you will continue to face difficult choices in the coming weeks, especially now that Governor Jared Polis has issued a statewide “stay at home” order in Colorado. Although construction is listed as a critical business, you may still be faced with no other option but to lay off trusted workers. Fortunately, the stimulus package would expand unemployment insurance. If you’re concerned that your company is not an essential business in your area, consult an attorney experienced in Colorado Springs construction law for clarification. 

Related: Is Construction an Essential Business? 

For up to four months, unemployed workers will be entitled to $600 per week on top of what state unemployment programs currently pay in unemployment benefits. As ABC News reports, “unemployed workers are eligible to receive up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits.” Some lawmakers are concerned that these provisions incentivize workers not to work — that workers would actually receive a raise by going on unemployment. Hopefully, this provision provides a needed safety net, not an easy out, for workers during this pandemic. Consult a Colorado Springs construction attorney for assistance with unemployment claims. 

Related: COVID-19: Preventing Workplace Exposure in Construction 

Direct Payment to Taxpayers 

In addition to expanding unemployment insurance, the stimulus package would send direct payments to tax-paying Americans who make less than $99,000 a year. Those who earn less than $75,000 can expect a direct payment of $1,200. Married couples are to receive $2,400, and families can expect an additional $500 per child. As income increases above $75,000, payment decreases. Americans can expect to receive a direct payment within the next few weeks. 

$1,200 isn’t much for a business, but every little bit helps. And it will provide your workers with additional funds to help pay their food, rent, and utility bills. It may not be much of a comfort for construction companies operating with skeleton crews. But as jobless claims soar to a record 3.3 million, at least your workers are not without recourse in this difficult time. 

Protecting Your Company in the Coming Months

The biggest economic stimulus package in American history will still need to be passed by the House, which is currently not in session. Although there may yet to be changes to the stimulus package, it is expected to be met with strong bipartisan support. As we continue to cover this topic, a Colorado Springs contractor attorney will be providing updates on legislation that is set to impact the construction industry and the resilient professionals within it. 

At Cotney Construction Law, we are here to provide for any of your legal needs. Whether your company requires dispute resolution services, contract review, or assistance complying with safety regulations, we can help. Our industry has been through tough times before, and it will only emerge stronger than ever after this crisis. For a partner who will protect your company in the coming weeks and months, contact a Colorado Springs contractor lawyer from Cotney Construction Law. 

If you would like to speak with a Colorado Springs construction litigation attorney, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

With the spread of the COVID-19 virus across the country, many large cities have resorted to shelter-in-place orders and millions of Americans are now working from home. Although many white-collar businesses can make a relatively seamless transition to remote work, construction firms face some undeniable challenges transferring their operations to telework. 

In this article, a Raleigh construction lawyer will answer four common questions for construction employers related to the employment law aspects of telework. Remember, for any of your legal needs during this pandemic, consult a Raleigh construction attorney with Cotney Construction Law.  

1) Can I request employees to telework?

Yes. Employers are being encouraged by public health programs like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to require non-essential employees to telework as a spread prevention strategy; however, telework must be a reasonable accommodation for employees and allow them to perform their essential functions. In other words, any employee that works in an office can likely transfer over to telework.  

2) Can I require employees that travel for work to telework?

Yes. As long as working from home is a reasonable accommodation and the employer prefers that their employee teleworks rather than travels, they can instruct them to do so. In fact, businesses should closely monitor the locations where any employees are required to travel for work, as COVID-19 is a community spread disease with a far greater risk factor in some areas of the United States.   

3) Can pay be reduced for employees that telework?

Yes and no. Payment depends on the classification of the worker. Salaried employees should be paid their full salary for telework; however, hourly employees may experience reduced hours when moved over to telework. However, if telework is considered a reasonable accommodation, the employee should work the same number of hours and be paid the exact same amount.  

4) If telework isn’t an option, do I have to pay an employee that isn’t working?

Yes and no. The answer to this question depends on the classification of the employee and whether or not they are covered within the recently expanded medical leave policy, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act). As a general wage and hour law, hourly employees are only required to be paid for the total numbers of hours they worked in a workweek. So if they are not working any hours, they shouldn’t be paid. As for exempt, salaried employees, the answer is determined on a case-by-case basis and requires the attention of a construction lawyer. 

With the passing of the FFCRA, some employment rights for paid sick leave and extended medical leave have been amended. Consult an attorney for more information. If you have any questions related to telework or your responsibilities within the FFCRA, speak with an attorney from Cotney Construction Law to learn more.    

If you would like to speak with a Raleigh construction litigation attorney, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.