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What are Voluntary Protection Programs? Part 1

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Are you having a hard time maintaining worker safety on your project site? Ensuring that all of your workers are practicing the safety guidelines established by governing bodies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can seem like an insurmountable task without the assistance of the Tampa construction attorneys at Cotney Construction Law.

One solution to this common issue is OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP), a series of programs aimed at improving workplace safety and health. In this two-part series, our Tampa construction lawyers will explore VPP and uncover how this program can improve workplace safety and reduce the likelihood of your project becoming subject to an OSHA citation.

What is VPP?

VPP was designed to supplement workplace safety through a collaborative effort with management, labor, and OSHA. By instituting a comprehensive system that values safety and health as the cornerstones of project management, VPP helps refocus construction projects with a safety-first philosophy. VPP helps determine whether or not your project site is utilizing an effective safety and health management system. If your firm has been approved into VPP, that means OSHA has recognized the extra effort you afford to your employee’s safety. In fact, individual employees who go above and beyond the call of duty to secure the project site can be recognized by VPP.

OSHA describes VPP as a series of “on-site consultation services” that can be “coupled with an effective enforcement program” to “expand employee protection.” If you feel like your workers lack dedication to safety, VPP is one way to increase their motivation. You can apply for VPP by contacting the OSHA regional office for your area.

VPP Authority, Legal Backing, and Origins

VPP is established in Section (2)(b)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. This legislation establishes VPP as a device to assure that all working men and women in the United States are working in environments that “preserve our human resources.” VPP encourages employers and their employees to work diligently to minimize the frequency of occupational safety and health hazards in the workplace. It also motivates contractors and workers to utilize and improve existing programs that aim to improve working conditions.

California was the first state to officially experiment with VPP in 1979. In 1982, OSHA officially announced VPP and confirmed its first use on a live project site. Many years later, in 1998, federal worksites achieved eligibility for VPP, greatly increasing the use of VPP nationwide.

VPP is one effective way to improve workplace safety on your project site. In part two, we will explore how VPP works and the benefits of joining.

If you would like to speak with a Tampa construction 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.

OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) promote workplace safety through collaborative relationships with contractors, workers, and federal regulators. On the surface, VPP is like any other organization aimed at minimizing the frequency of injuries in the workplace; however, it differs in a few notable ways. Namely, VPP is focused on creating a threefold benefit for workers, employers, and federal regulators. Once data is collected, it is used to inform future safety standards.

In part one, the Tampa construction lawyers at Cotney Construction Law introduced VPP and information regarding its authority, legal backing, and origins. In part two, we will explore how VPP works and how it benefits workers, employers, and federal regulators.

How Does VPP Work?

VPP utilizes performance-based criteria to grade workplace safety management and health systems. Sites are invited to apply for assessment, which uses the aforementioned grading scale to rank workplace safety on a given project site. This program includes verification by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which requires an application review and a thorough onsite inspection. Approved sites are enrolled in one of three programs:

Star: awarded to contractors and workers who demonstrate sufficient prevention and control of onsite safety and health hazards. They also display continuous improvements moving forward.

Merit: awarded to contractors and workers who have improved onsite safety, but have not met the criteria for the “Star” rating.

Demonstration: awarded to contractors and workers who utilize alternative safety and health management systems. This program affords OSHA the opportunity to field test new approaches to onsite health and safety.

Benefits of VPP

VPP aims to improve worker safety, increase employers’ profits, and facilitate new safety and health regulations by bridging the gap between OSHA and the workers it aims to protect.

Benefits for Workers: workers benefit from a significant reduction in workplace injuries and illnesses. Statistical evidence supports the use of VPP in increasing the viability of a site’s safety and health management systems.

Benefits for Employers: workers’ compensation premiums and other related costs can quickly eat away at an employer’s profits. Employers must absorb the cost of workplace injuries, so a reduction in injuries means higher profit margins.

Benefits for Federal Regulators: VPP-certified sites become ambassadors of safety that provide input to help maximize the government’s resources.

There are many ways to get involved with VPP. For example, the Voluntary Protection Program Participants’ Association (VPPPA) is a nonprofit organization that works to spread information about the benefits of cooperative programs. If you would like to learn more about how VPP can help improve safety on your project sites, consult a Tampa construction lawyer.

If you would like to speak with a Tampa construction 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.

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is quickly becoming an integral aspect of construction projects nationwide. Getting a perspective on your property from the air before you start building can help you avoid an array of potential setbacks, and it allows you to collect comprehensive data about your land without putting one of your workers at risk or spending an exorbitant amount of money on ineffective aerial photography using a manned aircraft.

UAVs are typically utilized to collect survey data utilizing two different methods: Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and photogrammetry. To learn about the laws affecting the use of UAVs for surveying purposes, contact a construction lawyer in Clarksville, TN from Cotney Construction Law. Our legal experts can help you acquire the proper licensing necessary to fly UAVs commercially or verify the credentials of a land surveyor you plan to hire.

LiDAR Overview

Aerial Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) is a popular method for surveying land because it utilizes avant-garde sensor technology to map geography as a precise 3D model. Aerial LiDAR uses a UAV to map an area from the sky. One of the most impressive features of LiDAR is its ability to cut through brush and vegetation to gain accurate insights about the ground. LiDAR produces data that can be imported to and manipulated in construction and architectural software.

Photogrammetry Overview

Another commonly used method for collecting UAV survey data is photogrammetry. Photogrammetry uses high-resolution cameras to build 2D and 3D surveys that can help contractors identify potential issues with a piece of property. Unlike LiDAR, photogrammetry can’t see through brush and vegetation, but its images are much clearer and more colorful than those produced using LiDAR. This data isn’t well-suited for software analysis, but it is effective when determining potential issues visually. This method is cost-effective and quick, but is best-suited to open plots of land with few obstructions.

LiDAR and Photogrammetry Together

Together, LiDAR and photogrammetry give contractors the opportunity to gain a previously unheard of level of insight about a piece of land before starting construction. By combining these two technologies, you can create 3D geographic models that utilize high-resolution images to provide comprehensive data about the environment, property boundaries, and land contour and texture in the location of your next project. Although this process can be costly, it can help you proactively avoid potential issues on complex projects.

Determining the best type of UAV survey data for your next project can be tricky. LiDAR and Photogrammetry accomplish a similar goal in two vastly different ways. If your project requires a significant survey, you should consider hiring a professional who can collect data using LiDAR and photogrammetry to help you avoid unnecessary re-work costs.

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

Cost estimates often require the consideration of historical data on construction costs to accurately estimate costs of future projects. Historical cost data only benefits your cost estimation efforts when the data is gathered and organized for future applications. In some cases, the cost estimator you hire may have access to files from past estimates that can help them more accurately predict the cost of your project. However, as the cost of supplies and labor fluctuates, cost estimators will need to update their files accordingly to continually provide accurate estimates.

Historical cost data can be a tremendous boon for contractors working on a tight budget, and when you consider the alternative — entrenching yourself in a pricing dispute with your investor — it seems logical to utilize this data to closely approximate your construction costs. Remember, if you find yourself locked in a legal dispute with an investor, contact a construction lawyer in Brentwood, TN.

Who Publishes Construction Cost Data?

A number of organizations regularly publish construction cost data that can be utilized for a comparative cost analysis. Types of available information include:

Catalogs of vendors’ data: includes cost quotations for products and highlights important features and specifications. Sweets Catalog, published by McGraw-Hill Information Systems Company, is one such catalog.

Periodicals: contain cost data and indices. The Engineering News-Record (ENR) publishes quarterly cost reports that feature comprehensive cost data about construction costs.

Commercial cost reference manuals for estimating guides: lists unit prices on building construction items. Some examples include the Building Construction Costs Book published every year by R.S. Means Company, Inc. and the Dodge Manual for Building Construction published by McGraw-Hill.

Digests of actual project costs: provide detailed descriptions and price breakdowns for various projects. ENR publishes the bid prices for an array of projects across all types of construction every week.

Errors in Historical Cost Data

Although historical cost data can be extremely useful, you must exercise caution when using it to help determine your cost estimates. Changes in the relative price of certain construction costs can have a major impact on the accuracy of your estimate and changes that take place over a long period of time can be nearly impossible to predict. Of course, there’s also a chance that your cost estimator could err as well, and some evidence suggests that understated cost estimates are the norm.

Historical cost data can be an extremely useful tool for contractors and cost estimators looking to trim away any uncertainty clouding the financial feasibility of a project, but before you make any moves, it’s always advisable to meet with a construction law attorney in Brentwood, TN to discuss any possible legal risks associated with your next project.

If you would like to speak with a construction 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.

When you want to ensure that you maintain a healthy relationship with your owner as you make progress on a building project, including a Payment Provision in your contract can help ensure that you receive payment for your hard work while satisfying the needs of your owner. At Cotney Construction Law, our Fort Lauderdale construction attorneys are intimately familiar with the efficacy of Payment Provisions. When two parties want to mitigate the chance of a legal dispute, a Payment Provision is one of the best methods of fostering transparency throughout a project’s timeline.

In part one, our Fort Lauderdale construction attorneys introduced Payment Provisions and what to include on one to protect yourself and the owner. In part two, we will explore some common issues with Payment Provisions and how to prevent them from occurring.

What Are the Common Issues with Payment Provisions?

As we mentioned above, transparency is vital to the success of a Payment Provision. In many cases, contractors fail to include a system to verify when specific items (provisions of labor and supplies) have been completed. While this affords the contractor more freedom to make autonomous determinations about factors that can greatly affect profits, it doesn’t bolster confidence in the owner, who may feel as though you are trying to hide information about the cost of building. For contractors, the allure of self-reliance may seem like an attractive alternative to daunting owner oversight, but more often than not, failing to communicate clearly with your owner will result in litigation.

If you do not draft a comprehensive Payment Provision into your contract, the owner may breach the contract by disputing your cost estimations or claiming your work was defective or undeserving of full payment. If this happens, you should cease construction and consult a Fort Lauderdale construction attorney before proceeding with any legal actions.

Preventing Litigation

When it comes to preventing litigation when using a Payment Provision, your best defense is a thorough provision that eliminates any guesswork on the owner’s part. Include information about how scheduled items will be assessed for completeness and have your provision reviewed by an independent counsel to help determine areas of your provision that need clarification. The majority of disputes arise over the completion of scheduled items and the payments associated with those items. Fortunately, by maintaining clear communication channels, you can settle these conflicts out of court using mediation or arbitration.

Allowing the owner to create an inspection system using an independent specialist to backup your progress report can help foster trust between both parties. You can allow them to inspect the project before each payment to verify that every scheduled item is updated accordingly.

If you would like to speak with a Fort Lauderdale 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.

When you work on a construction project for an owner, you will likely face the burden of obsessive cost-saving pressure as a result of interactions with leery owners who are worried that they will be taken advantage of. Owner reluctance to “hand over the reins” to a contractor is justified when you consider the massive costs associated with a custom building project.

Fortunately, by drafting a Payment Provision into your contract, you can assure that the owner is aware of all building costs on a continuous basis. This provision can also detail how you will be paid by the owner. In essence, the Payment Provision helps level the playing field for both the contractor and the owner. Building projects require a lot of trust between parties, it’s an inherent, unavoidable truth of the construction industry. If you are interested in learning more about how utilizing these provisions can help you avoid a costly legal dispute, speak with our Fort Lauderdale construction lawyers.

What does a Payment Provision Include?

When you include a Payment Provision in a contract, you ensure that all provisions of materials and labor are assigned corresponding values. This is often drafted in the form of a schedule, with each item representing a single unit of work or supply order. As you make progress on the project, the contractor will verify that each item has been completed and that the payment has been delivered. Following the provision closely will help you avoid disputes with owners and provide written documentation binding your services with those chronicled on the schedule.

Detailing Your Payment Provision

It’s important to include the correct information on a Payment Provision. You want to be certain that you have covered all of your bases and supplied the owner with as much information as possible regarding the work to be completed and when and how you wish to be paid for any services rendered. Payment Provisions should include:

  • Clear descriptions of every unit of work either in progress or already fulfilled. It’s important to utilize clear designations so owners aren’t confused about things like vague or recurring items.
  • Completion percentages for every item on the schedule. The contractor should update these percentages as often as possible to ensure that all parties are on the same page.
  • Item values updated in accordance with the completion percentage.

Once you have drafted all of this information into your Payment Provision, you are ready to deliver it to the owner who will subsequently pay the contractor for all scheduled items that have been completed.

In part two, our Fort Lauderdale construction lawyers will explore common issues with Payment Provisions and how to prevent these issues from occurring.

If you would like to speak with a Fort Lauderdale construction 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.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of hiring and firing a bad employee can equal 30 percent of the employee’s first-year potential earnings. Our St. Petersburg construction lawyers have seen how a few unfortunate hires can make a marked difference on your total earnings when calculating your profits at the end of the year. How can you ensure that you are only hiring well-intentioned, hardworking employees? It all starts with the first interview.

Interview Basics

The purpose of an interview is to assess a person for a specific job. It’s important to follow certain institutions of interviewing to uncover the truth about a subject, namely:

Let them talk: if you never give the interviewee the chance to talk, you’ll never learn anything about them. Don’t be self-conscious when asking questions. Self-conscious interviewers have a tendency to overthink the difficulty of their questions, or they might think they aren’t being clear, just ask the question simply and wait for an answer. Don’t rush the interviewee.

Prepare questions in advance: as an employer, you know what you expect from an employee for a given position. Drafting a standardized set of questions for each position will help you ensure that you are asking all of the important questions during an interview.

Take notes: record information to help you recall the specifics of the interview while simultaneously showing the interviewee that you truly care about what they are saying.

Interview Pitfalls

The process of interviewing new candidates for your job site can be a daunting task. You have to meet with countless potential hires to find the best candidate, meanwhile presenting yourself in a way that encourages interviewees to want to work for you. You don’t want to be too stringent, but you don’t want to become a doormat either.

Didn’t pre-screen workers: you can save a lot of time and money by pre-screening potential hires using a simple phone call. Ask a few targeted questions to gauge their knowledge and experience before proceeding with an in-person interview.

Unrealistic expectations: always try to empathize with your potential hires. Does the earnings potential fit the position? Is the opportunity competitive? Are all of your baseline requirements necessary? It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on job listings posted by your competitors to see if your expectations are unrealistic.

Make up your mind: if you take too long to select a hire, you may lose them to another company. Just as you interviewed dozens of new candidates for a job, those candidates each interviewed with dozens of companies looking for new employees. It’s always preferable to act on great talent.

If you would like to speak with a St. Petersburg 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.

The Securing the Parties’ Performance Provision is a common contractual device utilized by owners to bolster confidence in the contractor. This provision can be used to accurately detail your credit relationship with an owner.

Similar to the Performance Duties Provision and Payment Provision, the Securing the Parties’ Performance Provision is largely concerned with guaranteeing payment and performance on a rolling basis as various portions of the project are completed. In this two-part series, our Miami construction litigation attorneys will introduce the Securing the Parties’ Performance Provision and explain how it can hurt or benefit contractors and owners.

What is the Securing the Parties’ Performance Provision?

This provision is an essential component of any commercial contract because it details the monetary assurances between the owner and the contractor to facilitate a high-level of workmanship on commercial construction projects. The precise function of the Securing the Parties’ Performance Provision is to clearly outline the post payment and performance bonds being utilized to ensure that you (the contractor) complete the project according to the design plans and specifications mentioned in the contract. More importantly, it assures the owner that the contractor will continue to perform his or her duties until the project is completed regardless of disputes or disagreements between both parties.

Does this Provision Help or Hurt Contractors?

Most contractual provisions are designed to protect both parties. In many cases, these provisions simply ensure payment once work is completed. Logically, both contractors and owners should be interested in using provisions to help complete projects and guarantee payment for services rendered.

When discussing the Securing the Parties’ Performance Provision, the major benefit for contractors is that this provision acts like a covenant to ensure that contractors have the necessary capital to meet their building goals while simultaneously defending the contractor against potential nonpayment. In the provision, contractors can outline how they intend to collect payment from the owner. When owners fail to pay the contractor, the contractor can utilize prepayment clauses or mechanic’s liens to secure any withheld compensation.

The Securing the Parties’ Performance Provision is an effective method of fostering accountability between the contractor and the owner. Like most contractual provisions, transparency is the key to avoiding a dispute over quality of work, timelines, or other work-related conflicts.

In part two, our Miami construction litigation attorneys will continue exploring this important provision, focusing on common issues that arise when utilizing it, and how to prevent these issues from negatively affecting your relationship with an owner.

If you would like to speak with a Miami 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.

Construction projects are an immense undertaking that require close collaboration between an owner and a contractor. In a perfect world, owners would continually dish out money until the project was completed. Unfortunately, contractors and owners vie for profitability throughout the building process. Contractors don’t want to be underpaid, and owners don’t want to be forced to overpay for an underwhelming product.

How can we level the playing field for both parties? The simplest way is by utilizing various types of contractual provisions, like the Securing the Parties’ Performance Provision introduced in part one of this two-part series. If you are interested in incorporating the Securing the Parties’ Performance Provision into your next contract, consult a Miami contractor attorney from Cotney Construction Law.

What Are the Common Issues with the Securing the Parties’ Performance Provision?

From the owner’s perspective, the main issue with the Securing the Parties’ Performance Provision is that the contractor can terminate work on a project if they reach the credit limit. Legally, the contractor doesn’t have to resume work until the owner makes additional payments or other assurances to help repair the credit relationship.

An even more problematic scenario for the owner involves the contractor reaching the credit limit and then immediately enforcing a mechanic’s lien on the owner or expanding the credit limit because the provision wasn’t clearly detailed when the contract was signed. This can lead to the contractor partaking in extra, unapproved work, resulting in exorbitant costs for the owner. Although many of these issues can be settled outside of court, they will inevitably cause project delays as additional negotiations aim to plot the future of the project moving forward.

Preventing Conflicts

The Securing the Parties’ Performance Provision is intended to bolster confidence between the owner and the contractor, but unfortunately, due to the issues mentioned in the previous section, this isn’t always the case. To avoid the issues, it’s always a good idea to have your provision reviewed by an independent counsel so you can tailor the terms and conditions to best suit your firm’s abilities and the owner’s intentions. In addition, you should clearly outline information regarding when and how the credit limit can be changed as necessitated by the project. Owners are almost always wary of becoming the target of a mechanic’s lien. To exhibit your trustworthiness and inspire confidence in your owner, allow the owner to supplant a fulfillment clause in your provision to show them that you are willing to let them use the provision to their benefit, too.

If you would like to speak with our Miami 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.

Translating a design from 3D renderings and blueprints into a fully realized, physical structure isn’t as simple as following the instructions. Every project is composed of countless moving parts and requires an array of trade specializations to complete. People with differing skills sets, knowledge, and experience must work together to finalize a project, but coordinating all of these parts, and ensuring they all complete their tasks can be difficult to manage.

That’s why every project should include the Performance Duties Provision. This provision, sometimes referred to as a “Scope of Work,” provides the contractor and the owner with a clear detailing of the work to be done. In this two-part series, the Naples construction lawyers at Cotney Construction Law will explain the importance of the Performance Duties Provision and how they can save you time, money, and frustration.

What is Included in a Performance Duties Provision?

This provision catalogs all of your duties and responsibilities as a contractor. It notes the volume and scope of work to be undertaken by the contractor, how the project will be completed, a tentative deadline, and various obligations professed by the contractor. While the bulk of this provision is generally afforded to foreseeable events and circumstances, it can also describe unexpected events, too. Depending on the thoroughness of your provision, it can even include information regarding quality of work, handling of documents, and interpretation of design plans. Ideally, the provision will eliminate any doubt in the investor’s mind, while giving the contractor a clear path forward for development.

What Are Common Issues with the Performance Duties Provision?

The Performance Duties Provision is extremely helpful pending its depth and completion. A vague or incomplete provision can be very detrimental to a project, resulting in incomplete or defective work, issues with coordinating teams across varying trade specializations, and quality of work disputes.

Unfortunately, if the provision fails to account for these issues ahead of time, you could end up entrenched in litigation with your investor as you desperately search for a solution. This creates a negative feedback loop in which a lack of the proper provision results in litigation, which takes more time away from the project leading to pushed back deadlines and further conflict between you and the investor. In some instances, buildings have remained unfinished for years while long-winded disputes between contractors and investors raged on.

Are you drafting the Performance Duties Provision into your contracts? The Naples construction attorneys at Cotney Construction Law can help you ensure that your firm sets a realistic expectation for the work to be completed, virtually eliminating any chance of legal backlash from an investor. In part two, we will explore preventive measures for the provision.

If you would like to speak with a Naples 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.