COVID-19 AND THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

Here's How You Can Protect Your Business
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New Guidelines Released for Construction Sites following Tennessee’s Reopening

Many states across the U.S. have released their own guidance on COVID-19 for businesses to follow, with varying degrees of clarity. Fortunately, the state of Tennessee has released detailed guidelines for businesses, including construction businesses, to follow now that the state is allowing most non-essential businesses to reopen. Below, a construction lawyer in Clarksville, TN, provides an overview of the guidelines for construction worksites.   

Even if your construction business continued offering essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to be mindful of these guidelines. They were created with the input of private sector working groups in partnership with Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Group, and they may prove to be invaluable for your business. 

The “Tennessee Pledge”

As part of the “Tennessee Pledge,” the construction worksite guidelines include safeguarding protocols based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These guidelines are meant to be helpful and do not supersede any federal laws or standards, meaning that contractors will still need to follow guidelines issued by OSHA, the CDC, and the Tennessee Department of Health. Consult a construction law attorney in Clarksville, TN, for assistance complying with safety regulations from multiple sources. 

Providing a Safe Work Environment 

Tennessee is recommending many steps that your jobsite should already be familiar with. To begin, construction employers should screen all employees and visitors for possible cases of COVID-19. Ask if the employee has been around anyone confirmed to have COVID-19. Ask about their symptoms and check if they align with the reported symptoms of COVID-19. In addition to screening questions, you should perform temperature screenings on employees and subcontractors, preferably with a no-touch thermometer. Keep in mind that temperatures should not exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Related: Do Contractors Have to Record Cases of COVID-19?

Sending and Keeping Sick Workers Home 

Employees should be immediately sent home and encouraged to contact a doctor or undergo COVID-19 testing if they experience symptoms of the virus. In fact, all employees should be encouraged to stay home if they are exhibiting symptoms, confirmed to have COVID-19, or have come in contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19. Older employees and employees with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness and should also be encouraged to stay home. Even though your workforce may take a hit from these precautions, they are essential for preventing the spread of the virus. 

Related: COVID-19: Managing Employees With Pre-Existing Conditions

Disinfecting Tools and Surfaces 

The CDC now emphasizes that the virus does not spread easily on surfaces and that person-to-person contact is the main way the virus spreads. But the virus still has the potential to spread this way if someone touches a surface with the virus on it before touching their face, and Tennessee’s guidelines still ask construction employers to take precautions. Limit the sharing of tools on your jobsite. Preferably, no worker should be handing an object to another person. Tools and objects should be disinfected after every use and if sharing is unavoidable. Clean all surfaces on construction equipment at the beginning and end of each shift. Essentially, if it’s a surface that can be touched by a worker, it’s your responsibility to have it disinfected. Consult a construction attorney in Franklin, TN, if you have any questions regarding your responsibilities as an employer in the eyes of CDC and OSHA. 

Requiring the Use of Personal Protective Equipment and Face Coverings

Face coverings should be recommended to workers in close proximity to one another. Although Tennessee stipulates this is only a necessary precaution when social distancing is impossible, we recommend having all workers wear cloth face coverings at all times. Many people who have COVID-19 are asymptomatic, meaning that they don’t display any symptoms at all. Having your workers wear cloth face coverings can help prevent the spread of the virus among workers who are unaware that they are sick. As the guidelines state, even a simple bandana can help. 

Related: COVID-19: Preventing Workplace Exposure in Construction

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as eye protection and gloves, can also help prevent the spread, but be sure that your workers are taking the necessary precautions with these items. PPE should not be shared, and reusable PPE should be disinfected after each use. Additionally, your employees should still follow proper hygiene practices even after using disposable PPE, such as disposable gloves. 

Promoting a Safe Work Environment 

Speaking of good hygiene, your employees must do their part to ensure a safe work environment. You can help them by providing handwashing stations with disposable towels as well as eye and face protection and disposable gloves when they are cleaning. You may not be able to control what your employees do when they are off the clock, but you can foster a safe work environment while they are on your time. 

Related: Overcoming Social Distancing Challenges on Your Jobsite 

As mentioned, COVID-19 is mainly spread through person-to-person contact. Therefore, one of the best things you can do for your employees and business is to encourage social distancing. Tennessee guidelines recommend that construction companies prohibit congregation, prohibit carpooling, restrict access to confined areas, and stagger shifts and break times to ensure that social distancing standards (at least six feet) are being followed. It’s of vital importance that all subcontractors and sub-subcontractors follow these guidelines; COVID-19 doesn’t care if adjacent workers have different employers. 

Being Transparent With Employees 

Finally, Tennessee guidelines discuss the importance of informing employees of their rights, a notion our attorneys agree with entirely. You should inform your employees of their expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA allows up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for coronavirus-related reasons. Additionally, because your business will be privy to employees medical information, you must be respectful of their privacy. Your employees are entitled to know if a coworker has tested positive for COVID-19, but they are not entitled to know the identity of that worker. Revealing confidential medical information could result in a violation of federal anti-discrimination laws, such as the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA). Consult a construction law attorney in Franklin, TN, for more information. 

Related: 5 Common Questions Employers Have About the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Reaching for a Helping Hand

Over the course of this article, we’ve discussed numerous recommendations made by Governor Bill Lee, the Unified Command Group, and Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Group in the “Tennessee Pledge.” These recommendations may prove to be invaluable to contractors operating in The Volunteer State. However, discerning the difference between a recommendation and a federal law may prove to be as challenging as ever, especially during the ongoing pandemic. 

At Cotney Construction Law, we understand the many challenges facing construction employers during this difficult time. We are here to help you cut through the confusion regarding state and federal recommendations and regulations and provide your workers with a safe, hazard-free work environment. If you have any questions in the coming months regarding your responsibilities as an employer, don’t hesitate to contact a construction lawyer in Brentwood, TN, with Cotney Construction Law. Our attorneys will help ensure your success during this pandemic and long after. 

If you would like to speak with a construction law attorney in Brentwood, 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.

Construction business owners have a lot of areas of their business they need to manage. Effective recordkeeping is one of the most overlooked areas of managing a business. An effective recordkeeping system helps employers track expenses, prepare annual financial statements, and protect their small business from lawsuits or an audit by a government agency. 

Employers are legally obligated to maintain a plethora of documents, including employment records, tax records, payroll records, and workers’ compensation records, among other important documents. Along with these required documents, employers will want to keep other essential records related to receipts, accounts payable and receivable, safety manuals, permits, and contracts. 

With the recent spread of COVID-19 across the country, employers will now be tasked with maintaining COVID-19 related documents too. In this article, a Raleigh construction lawyer will discuss what exactly an employer is required to keep records of and some additional items they should consider documenting. For employment law or tax advice, consult a Raleigh contractor attorney at Cotney Construction Law. 

Related: Creating a Strategy for Reopening Your Construction Business

COVID-19 Related Requirements for OSHA

Under updated federal guidance, employers are not exempt from OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements for confirmed cases of COVID-19. The key is that the infection must be considered work-related in nature. For more information on these guidelines produced by the federal safety agency, review OSHA’s revised enforcement guidelines. Although employers are not expected to undertake extensive medical inquiries, when they learn of a COVID-19 related illness, they may ask the employee if they believe they are infected. The employer can discuss with the employee how they believe they contracted the illness. If the infection is believed to be work-related, the employer should record the respiratory illness in their OSHA Form 300 log. 

If the infection is not work-related, the employer does not need to record the illness on their OSHA form; however, there are some other recordkeeping tactics that can help protect workers and reduce liability for the employer. 

Workplace Changes

Although it’s not a federal or state requirement, employers should keep a running log of the steps they have taken to prepare the workplace for the employees’ return, including making physical modifications made to maintain social distancing requirements, scheduling adjustments for employees, and granting extended telework or an extended leave of absence.  

Related: COVID-19: Managing Employees With Pre-Existing Conditions

Policy Changes

Any policies that were adjusted to accommodate safety and health advice from public health organizations, such as the CDC, should be documented, including work-related travel restrictions, teleworking policies, attendance policies, revising medical leave policies to include Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) benefits, and updated job descriptions and essential duties. 

Daily Temperature Screening

Under recently released federal guidelines, employers are encouraged to conduct daily temperature screening tests to mitigate the spread of the virus. Employers should keep a daily log of each day this was performed, if any employees had a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater, and the date and time they were sent home. The daily screening log should include any updates regarding the employee’s condition.  

Contact Logs

All employees should be required to keep a contact log detailing whom the employee worked with each day and any clients, vendors, or bystanders they may have come in contact with. If an employee is infected with COVID-19, this information should be recorded in a private log as well. It’s important that any medical-related information remains private as it’s confidential. 

Cleaning Initiatives

Employers should keep a running list of the frequency of cleaning activities and other tasks related to stopping the spread of COVID-19. For example, the cleaning and sanitizing procedures conducted each day should be recorded as well as the frequency of external cleaning agencies visiting the jobsite. 

Related: Preventing Workplace Exposure in Construction

Paid Leave

Employers will need to track employees that exercise their right to take paid medical or family leave during the pandemic. Under FFCRA, qualified employees have the right to 14 days of paid leave for COVID-19 related reasons, including infection, caring for a loved one, or homeschooling a child.  

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan

Employers that received a federal loan will need a recordkeeping system in place documenting how exactly they spent the money they received. Specifically, employers should place these funds in a separate account, spend at least 75 percent of the funds on payroll, and closely track every expense to ensure compliance.  

As states begin to lift stay-at-home orders and employees return to work, employers must prepare themselves for the challenges that lie ahead. From addressing safety concerns to updating policies and maintaining a reliable recordkeeping system, employers will need to identify and address crucial employment issues to protect their employees and their business. For employment law and safety related legal advice, consult a Raleigh construction law firm with any of your legal concerns. 

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.

There has been a great deal of confusion surrounding the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, so much so that we’ve written several articles shedding light on emerging PPP guidelines. Many business owners have felt burned by the SBA’s strict guidelines, such as the requirement that 75 percent of a loan must be spent on payroll expenses.

Fortunately, some great news has been announced that should be a welcome change of pace for struggling business owners in the construction industry. Below, our Nashville construction lawyers discuss these new developments. We understand that this news may be of little comfort to contractors right now, but it’s a sign that things are starting to look up for this incredible industry. 

Acting in Good Faith 

When submitting your PPP application, you certified in good faith that the loan request was necessary to continue your business operations. As stipulated by updated SBA guidelines, “Any borrower that, together with its affiliates, received PPP loans with an original principal amount of less than $2 million will be deemed to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith.” Essentially, the SBA and Department of Treasury are providing businesses that borrowed less than $2 million with “safe harbor” from audits or penalties. 

Related: The Small Business Administration Offers New Guidance on PPP Loans

This is great news for the many contractors hesitant to spend their PPP loan money out of fear of breaking one of the SBA’s many unclear rules. Let’s be clear, this doesn’t mean that you can’t be audited. And this doesn’t mean that your company will avoid scrutiny if it fails to abide by the SBA’s requirements for loan forgiveness. It means that the SBA and Treasury are focusing their efforts on auditing larger businesses. Consult one of our Nashville construction attorneys if you have any questions. 

Extending Loan Forgiveness Period 

As it stands, loan recipients have an incredibly short period of time —  just eight weeks — to spend their loan money if they want it all to qualify for forgiveness. As The New York Times reports, this left many business owners hesitant to spend their loan money. “Some owners don’t see the point of hiring back workers when business is so slow. Others chafe at having to use the money within eight weeks, when they would like to keep the financial cushion for longer. And many of the owners are confused about whether they have any flexibility.” 

Related: 5 Tips for Navigating Your Way Through the Paycheck Protection Program

Congress is looking to extend the forgiveness period to 12 or 16 weeks. A bill has been introduced that would even extend the forgiveness period for as long as the COVID-19 crisis lasts. It remains to be seen whether or not these bills will pass, but Congress appears united in its desire to extend the forgiveness period. For any assistance navigating the SBA’s ever-changing guidelines, a Nashville construction lawyer with Cotney Construction Law can assist you. 

If you would like to speak with a Nashville construction 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.

Fears were realized when mass testing at a construction site in Nashville revealed that over 70 workers had contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This revelation serves as a stark reminder that the threat of COVID-19 is real and that contractors must do everything in their power to prevent the spread of this terrible virus. 

Below, a Nashville contractor lawyer with Cotney Construction Law discusses the situation developing at this Nashville construction site. We will also cover ways that construction companies can provide their workers with a hazard-free work environment even during the current pandemic. For information on your rights and responsibilities as an employer, our Nashville construction attorneys are standing by. 

Positive Cases Among Multiple Subcontractors

COVID-19 testing on a construction site on the campus of Montgomery Bell Academy demonstrates the challenges facing contractors across the state of Tennessee. As reported by News Channel 5, following the first confirmed positive case of COVID-19 on the jobsite, the general contractor in question quickly isolated the worker, initiated contact tracing, and closed the jobsite for cleaning. The site reopened with heightened safety measures, requiring that all workers be tested. 

Related: OSHA on Isolating Workers Who Show Symptoms of COVID-19

The results were startling. A total of 74 workers tested positive for COVID-19. Remember, all of this took place over the course of only a few weeks. Although the general contractor acted responsibly, it simply wasn’t enough to prevent the spread of the virus.

Related: Creating a Crisis Management Plan for COVID-19

How Can Construction Companies Prevent the Spread?  

Workers who tested positive were from multiple subcontractors. COVID-19 does not discriminate when it comes to employees of the general contractor, subcontractor, or sub-subcontractor. This illustrates just how important it is to coordinate with all parties involved when creating a jobsite preparedness and response plan. This plan should include steps recommended and required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Consider investing in one of our COVID-19 Protection Kits if your company does not already have a jobsite preparedness and response plan. 

The general contractor discussed above followed many of the rules implemented by OSHA and the CDC. They quickly isolated the worker, initiated contact tracing, and disinfected the jobsite. Your jobsite would do well to implement similar actions in the event that one of your workers tested positive for COVID-19. Although the general contractor in question was unable to stop the spread of the virus, it doesn’t mean you can’t on your jobsite. For assistance promoting a safe, hazard-free workplace, consult the Nashville contractor lawyers from Cotney Construction Law. 

If you would like to speak with a Nashville construction 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.

By this point, you’re probably well aware that the construction industry is facing a labor shortage unlike any other industry in the United States, with thousands of vacant positions waiting to be filled by experienced and highly skilled workers. This is not only alarming but detrimental, as such a shortage is associated with project delays, rising materials costs, and loss of contracts, just to name a few. A number of solutions have been proposed to mitigate this shortage, including efforts to attract younger generations to the construction industry; however, one solution may prove to be more promising than the rest. 

In this brief article, a construction lawyer in Wilmington, NC, with Cotney Construction Law discusses the potential for autonomous technology to address the labor shortage in the construction industry while preserving the safety of our workers. To stay ahead of the curve with day-to-day developments in the industry, partner with a construction attorney in Wilmington, NC, today. 

Related: Understanding the Construction Industry’s Labor Shortage Problem

How Does Autonomous Technology Differ From Other Technology Trends in the Construction Industry?

Prior to reviewing the potential benefits of incorporating autonomous technology on your construction jobsite, we will first go over how the rise of autonomous technology differs from other technology trends and what technology you may already be using on the job. For example, consider the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones. The construction industry has been making use of drones for years now, citing improvements in safety conditions and efficiency alike. 

More recently, however, thanks to a study conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Langley Research Center, the construction industry has moved towards the use of autonomous drones able to function without the need for a human controller. The same trend has been observed in other forms of technology, such as automated robots that are programmed to perform tasks such as bricklaying or drilling. This is an even greater breakthrough than other automated technology like driverless trucks because autonomous drones don’t need to be controlled remotely via a human operator.

Related: Autonomous Drones in the Construction Industry

How Can Autonomous Technology Mitigate the Labor Shortage?

The rise of autonomous technology may help mitigate the labor shortage in the construction industry by removing some of the burden created by a lack of workers. Autonomous heavy equipment is being used for everything from soil compaction to asphalt rolling. Not only can such technology close the gap between the supply and demand of workers, but they have also been found to speed up production schedules, increase accuracy, increase efficiency, reduce costs, and free up skilled human laborers for other tasks. 

Overall, autonomous technology is in a position to change the way people view the construction industry and help out with the labor shortage. Additionally, it may help to attract a new, younger generation of skilled workers. Partner with a contractor attorney in Wilmington, NC, today to begin implementing safety features on your jobsite.

If you would like to speak with a contractor lawyer in Wilmington, NC, 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.

If you recently started your own construction business, you’re likely facing many challenges right now. Along with new challenges facing the industry, including potential labor and material shortages and fear of the spread of COVID-19, there are also the ever present challenges, including safety concerns. 

In this brief article, an OSHA attorney will discuss requirements for new businesses under the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Although the federal safety and health organization offers its own assistance to new businesses, construction business owners should consult the OSHA lawyers with Cotney Construction Law for any safety-related concerns, including implementing safety initiatives into your workplace. 

What Are Employers Responsible for Under OSHA Guidelines?

As the employer, you must adhere to the provisions set forth by OSHA. You can learn more about these provisions by reviewing the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970; however, it’s best to consult a Texas OSHA lawyer if you are looking for answers to specific safety-related questions. As you already know, employers are required to provide a safe, hazard-free workplace. Here are some other responsibilities the employer must comply with:

 

  • Providing OSHA Standards to Employees: If an employee requests more information on a safety standard, the employer is responsible for providing them with a copy of that information. It’s always best to have several copies of OSHA standards available to provide to your team.
  • Displaying OSHA Posters: Employers must display OSHA safety and health information in the workplace. This information informs your workforce of their safety and health rights and must be posted in a clearly visible area of the workplace. To learn more about the specific posters that need to be displayed, consult a construction attorney.
  • Recordkeeping and Reporting: Employers are required to maintain records for occupational injuries and illnesses. Furthermore, if an employee is seriously injured on the jobsite, the employer must report this injury as soon as possible.
  • Keeping the Workforce Informed: Employers are responsible for informing their workforce of any additional information on health or safety risks present on the jobsite. For example, if an employee is working with hazardous chemicals, the employer must inform them of the dangers of chemical hazards and provide them with the necessary safety information to protect them from harm.
  • Providing Personal Protection Equipment: Employers must ensure that all safety and health standards are being followed, including safety standards related to PPE. Employers need to invest in PPE for their employees, including fall protection systems and other equipment. If your workforce is not wearing appropriate PPE, you will receive a citation.
  • Participating in Inspections: All construction businesses are subject to inspections by OSHA. These inspections can occur for a variety of reasons, including after an employee complaint. If your workplace received a request for an inspection from an OSHA compliance officer, a Texas OSHA lawyer can be of assistance.

Related: Learn About the Types of OSHA Inspections

How Can a Construction Lawyer Help Your New Business?

If you recently established a new business, a construction attorney can provide you with the legal guidance you require to ensure you are complying with the standards set forth by OSHA. Here are a few reasons why partnering with with our Texas OSHA defense lawyers can greatly benefit the safety aspects of your business:

 

  • Consultations: Whether you are interested in on-site assistance with a safety-related matter or you would like an OSHA defense lawyer to perform a third-party site inspection before an OSHA visit, our construction lawyers can visit your site and identify and correct any hazards.
  • Safety Training: As the majority of our attorneys and staff have real-world experience in construction, we can create training courses and safety and health initiatives that protect your workforce and your business. Furthermore, we can draft and review all of your safety manuals to ensure that these documents feature the latest safety-related material.
  • Citation Dispute: If you were issued a citation and you would like to challenge the decision, a construction lawyer can navigate you through the response process. Furthermore, our attorneys are highly experienced in participating in conferences and hearings for construction clients on both the local and federal level.
  • Answers in Real Time: When you partner with a construction law firm and invest in an affordable, monthly subscription plan, you and your team receive unlimited access to a construction attorney on-demand. You can pick up the phone any time and our attorneys and staff will address your safety concerns. With plans starting at $599, you can save a tremendous amount of money long term when you allocate a small portion of budget to your monthly legal spend. 

 

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.

Since the creation of the Transportation Alternatives Program, formally known as the Federal Transportation Enhancement Program, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has been able to award more than $317 million in grants to projects across the state. Residents of the Volunteer State have since benefited from the sidewalks, bike and pedestrian trails, and landscaping that wouldn’t have been possible without this funding. 

Now, Gov. Bill Lee and the TDOT Commissioner Clay Bright have announced that $10 million in grant funding will go towards statewide transportation alternatives. Below, a Chattanooga contractor attorney with Cotney Construction Law will discuss this incredible announcement and what it means for construction companies in Tennessee. 

Revitalizing Communities

“Increasing safety, promoting healthy lifestyles and providing improved access to our cities and towns make our communities better places to live and work,” said Gov. Lee. Exactly $10,328,312 has been awarded to this year’s grantees. Here are just a few of the projects that will soon be cropping up throughout Tennessee:

  • Charlotte: $1,096,596 will go towards the construction of sidewalks along the east side of SR-48
  • Elizabethton: $797,424 will go towards the rehabilitation of a historic covered bridge
  • Springhill: $1,195,998 will go towards construction of a greenway along McCutcheon Creek that will include pedestrian bridges and amenities

Very soon, contractors in these cities will be able to bid on these vital and lucrative projects. 

Related: Improving Your Bidding Strategy

Not in Your Area? 

Don’t fret if you don’t see any grant funding awarded in your city. Local government agencies in Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga regularly submit applications to the Transportation Alternatives Program. In the meantime, contractors can look for open bids. Chattanooga contractors should look to both the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County for bid solicitations. 

Related: 4 Reasons Why You Should Protest an Unfavorable Bid Decision

For Assistance Procuring Transportation Projects 

It is an incredible opportunity to work on alternative transportation projects. These transportation projects are vital not only for restoring communities but for improving our state’s infrastructure. However, like the Transportation Alternatives Program, procuring projects is a competitive process. For assistance procuring projects or defending or filing a bid protest, consult our Chattanooga contractor attorneys from Cotney Construction Law. 

If you would like to speak with a Chattanooga contractor 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.

On May 3, a woman in Nashville caught incredible footage of four construction workers clinging to an unfinished roof while a violent windstorm passed through the area. This comes just two months after a cluster of tornadoes damaged sections of Middle Tennessee and further illustrates the importance of being mindful of inclement weather while working on a construction project. 

In this brief article, a Nashville contractor attorney with Cotney Construction Law will discuss this harrowing event and how roofers can stay safe when bad weather rolls in. As with all safety concerns in the industry, taking precautions and remaining vigilant can go a long way towards preventing injuries and saving lives. 

Winds as Strong as a Category 1 Hurricane 

Roofers and other construction workers are normally on the ball when it comes to preparing for storms and hurricanes covered by news stations. When a trusted weather report gives you days or even weeks to prepare, scheduling around bad weather can be relatively simple. But as the footage shows, bad weather can form in a matter of minutes.

Related: Preparing for Weather-Related Hazards

The footage shows what is called a derecho, a long-lived windstorm, passing through Middle Tennessee with an average wind speed of 60 mph. The construction workers in the video likely had little to no time to return to the safety of their vehicles. The video shows them desperately clinging to the unfinished roof as plywood sheets fly by, nearly hitting them. Fortunately, the workers made it down safely, but this event could have easily resulted in severe injuries or death. 

Related: Extreme Weather and Roofing

Be on the Lookout for Bad Weather 

If you ever see signs of inclement weather, it’s imperative that you and your workers seek shelter. Always listen to your workers’ concerns regarding weather, especially if they fear that there’s a storm on the horizon. Always pay attention to news alerts regarding weather developments. Set up weather notifications on your smartphone so that you can be alerted as soon as bad weather forms. And this should go without saying, but always have your workers wear the appropriate fall protection equipment when working at an elevation above six feet as is required by OSHA. We can’t say what took place before the video, but if the workers had taken these safety precautions, there’s a good chance they could have avoided serious risk.  

For questions regarding safety precautions or fall protections systems, a Nashville contractor attorney with Cotney Construction Law can assist you. 

If you would like to speak with one of our Nashville contractor attorneys, 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.

Before the first round of small business loan funding ran out, an incredible 1.6 million loans had been approved by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans are incredibly popular largely because 100 percent of the loan can be forgiven, so long as employers follow guidance imparted by the SBA. Unfortunately, this guidance has been anything but clear, and construction employers who took out loans weeks ago are now wondering how much of their loan will actually be forgiven. 

Below, our attorneys discuss new guidance released by the SBA that sheds some light on loan forgiveness. The SBA continues to update its PPP FAQ page, but they’ve yet to release any formal guidance. Hopefully, this article will answer some of your questions regarding your PPP loan. For further assistance with your PPP loan, consult one of our Nashville construction law lawyers. 

Rehiring Laid-Off Employees 

PPP loans are designed to cover payroll expenses incurred over an eight-week period, and with that eight-period winding down, employers wonder how exactly they’re permitted to spend that money. For instance, what happens if a laid-off employee refuses an offer to come back to work? Will the loan forgiveness amount be reduced? No, not as long as you made a “good faith, written offer of rehire” and documented the rejection. Of note, a laid-off employee who rejects an offer to return to work could forfeit eligibility for continued unemployment benefits. 

Related: 5 Tips for Navigating Your Way Through the Paycheck Protection Program

Determining Forgiveness With “Full-time Equivalent Employees” 

Another question that has employers stumped is how to determine whether or not they successfully maintained headcount. Do all employees count or just full-time employees? This is especially tricky because the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which established the PPP, defines employees as “individuals employed on a full-time, part-time, or other basis.” However, the PPP FAQ clarifies that, for the purposes of loan forgiveness, only “full-time equivalent employees” will be considered. 

Related: Advice for Contractors About the Paycheck Protection Program

Essentially, during your eight week loan period, your full-time employee headcount must be equal to or greater than your full-time employee headcount during a pre-COVID-19 period (from January 1, 2020 through February 29, 2020, or from February 15, 2019, through June 30, 2019). If your full-time employee headcount is lower, your loan forgiveness will be reduced. 

Doing the Best You Can

Without formal guidance from the SBA, construction companies across the nation are heading into uncharted territory. Until that time, we recommend that contractors do their best to maintain headcount and abide by the guidelines set by the SBA. For assistance with your SBA loan or HR practices, including hiring practices and workplace reductions, consult an attorney with our Nashville construction law firm

If you would like to speak with a Nashville construction law 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.

Many states in the United States have similar or even identical lien deadlines for general contractors and subcontractors. Tennessee is just not one of those states. In fact, the lien deadlines for these two types of contractors are so radically different that numerous contractors have gotten burned thinking they had more time to comply with lien requirements than they actually had. 

Below, a Nashville mechanic’s lien law attorney with our law office will give a brief summary of Tennessee’s lien laws. Hopefully, this information will give you the leg up the next time a party refuses to relinquish owed payment for work or materials provided. 

General Contractors

General contractors, contractors that contract directly with the project owner, are required to give preliminary notice prior to breaking ground. This should come as no surprise if you’re a general contractor, as these notices must be sent prior to working on the contract. Failure to provide proper notice is actually a Class B misdemeanor, so be sure to consult a Nashville mechanic’s lien law attorney with any questions. 

General contractors have a full year from completion of work to file and enforce a mechanic’s lien. Under Tennessee Code § 66-11-106, “A prime contractor’s lien shall continue for one (1) year after the date the improvement is complete or is abandoned, and until the final decision of any suit properly brought within that time for its enforcement.” But just because you have a full year to file a mechanic’s lien doesn’t mean you can get complacent. Failure to file a lien in a timely manner could result in other parties being given priority. 

Subcontractors (And Material Providers) 

In stark contrast to the above, subcontractors have a very limited amount of time to give preliminary notice, file a mechanic’s lien, and enforce it. How little time? 90 days. Subcontractors, also known as remote contractors under Tennessee law, must provide a preliminary notice to both the general contractor and owner within 90 days of the last day of each month work was completed, and they have 90 days to both file (serve a Notice of Lien) and enforce a mechanic’s lien after work is completed. As stated by Tennessee law, “The lien shall continue for the period of ninety (90) days from the date of service of notice in favor of the remote contractor.” You may even only have 30 days to file a lien if the owner files a Notice of Completion. 

Don’t Wait 

Whether you’re a general contractor, subcontractor, or material provider, you absolutely cannot delay in complying with these strict deadlines. It’s best to provide preliminary notices and comply with filing requirements as soon as possible. For a legal ally who will help you stay on top of strict deadlines and pursue the funds you’re owed, partner with a Nashville construction lien lawyer with Cotney Construction Law. 

If you would like to speak with a Nashville mechanic’s lien law 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.