Preventing injuries is the main goal of a jobsite safety program, but it is only part of a contractor’s overall loss-prevention effort. An injury on the job has a human cost for the employee, but it also sets in motion the machinery of workers’ compensation, which can seriously affect a contractor’s costs. A proactive return-to-work program typically rewards the contractor with lower claim costs and a lower experience modification factor. Continue »
Typically, disruption in the workplace is counterintuitive to productivity. But in terms of creating innovative ways to manage people, processes and technology, the concept of “disruption” isn’t such a bad thing for the construction industry. Change is stirring whether contractors are ready for it or not, and firms that have adopted new ways of managing scheduling and workflows are seeing stellar results—earning the accolades of repeat projects for key clients, as well as happy project partners.
Though the number of workplace fatalities has been declining since 2006, construction still has one of the highest fatality rates of any industry, with 3.6 deaths per 100,000 full-time employees reported in 2010. Falls, electrocutions and workers being caught, crushed or struck by machines or other objects are the leading causes of death. One of the most effective and simplest ways to prevent these incidents, and potential fatalities, is to implement a corporate substance abuse policy. Continue »
During the past decade, background screening has become a necessary way for companies to minimize liability, protect consumers and safeguard their brand. For construction management firms, the use of subcontractors and other contracted workers presents a special challenge. Even though they aren’t direct employees, contracted individuals can become the “public face” of a construction management company.
Recent litigation shows construction managers ultimately are liable for individuals performing work on commercial, industrial and residential projects, regardless of their employer. This potential for liability puts additional pressure on construction management companies to ensure workers are fully screened and adequately insured prior to being sent out into the field. If contractors or their subcontractors fail to provide adequate workers’ compensation coverage, the prime contractor is subject to penalties in the event of an audit. Without liability insurance, the contractor may be liable if a worker is injured on the job. Continue »
A major generational collision is occurring in the workplace. Millennials, reared with technology at their fingertips, are seeking jobs and often out-competing their baby boomer predecessors who want to stay in the workforce. This collision can be frustrating, alienating and divisive; to adapt, organizations must celebrate diversity, collaboration, creativity and productivity. Continue »
Risk is an inherent element of construction. Weather, changing project locations and local workforce challenges all add risk beyond what’s typically experienced in a more controlled manufacturing environment. These risks may be present before an estimator even looks at the drawings—in the language of contracts written by owners seeking to reduce their own liability. Some of these risks are very difficult, if not impossible, to control. Continue »
In today’s business environment, construction companies face the challenge of matching productive resources with market opportunities. Vital to resource management and the success of a business plan is a well-designed, flexible budget. When developed properly, a budget can be an effective guide in good and bad economic times. Highly intuitive, integrated software solutions can make financial planning and budgeting less of a task and ultimately more beneficial to a project’s profitability. Continue »
For taxpayers located in certain parts of NY, NJ, & CT (see list below), the Internal Revenue Service has postponed, until February 1, 2013, various tax filing and payment deadlines including:
- Form 990 series returns with an original or extended deadline falling on or after the start dates listed below;
- 4th quarter individual estimated tax payments (normally due 1/15/13); and
- Payroll and excise tax returns and accompanying payments for the 3rd & 4th quarters (normally due 10/31/12 & 1/31/12, respectively). Continue »
There are plenty of ways to go green when designing or remodeling commercial buildings, but it helps when sustainability equates to more money. The 179D tax deduction, first established with the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, enables building owners to deduct all or part of the costs associated with the installation or retrofit of energy-efficient buildings or the systems within them. The tax deduction allows up to $1.80 per square foot for the installation of energy-efficient systems that reduce the building’s total energy and power costs by 50 percent.
The Energy Policy Act originally was set to expire in January 2009, but the 179D tax deduction was extended for five years with the passage of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. It now extends to energy-saving improvements made to commercial buildings that are completed on or between Jan. 1, 2006, and Dec. 31, 2013. (The provisions of 179D can be applied retroactively.) In addition to extending the deduction’s deadline, the rescue package eased some of the requirements for energy-efficient building envelopes. Continue »
In December 2011, the Treasury Department issued temporary and proposed regulations—commonly referred to as the “repair regulations”—that provide guidance on the tax treatment of costs incurred by acquiring, repairing or improving tangible property. Tangible property includes building components, machinery, equipment, furniture, fixtures and land.
The temporary regulations adopt many of the standards included in the 2006 and 2008 proposed regulations; however, they also include significant changes that will affect most taxpayers. Companies should determine the extent to which they will be required to change their current accounting methods to conform to the new regulations. Even if an accounting change is not necessary, companies should analyze whether adopting the new standards will be more advantageous than their current methods. Continue »
Ethics programs have been praised for their positive effect on the engineering and construction industry, shoring up the reputation of firms and bringing stricter oversight and regulation of work practices. But all ethics programs are not equal. For firms dedicated to promoting lasting cultural change, reporting rates will be higher and incidences of ethical violations will be lower. Conversely, it is possible to implement the façade of an ethics program, yet harbor a dishonest and retaliatory culture that discourages reporting. In this case, the last line of defense is an anonymous hotline. Continue »
The claim of labor shortages in construction has a tendency to fall on deaf ears. After all, since peak industry employment was achieved in April 2006, the number of construction jobs has declined by 2.2 million, or 28.6 percent. Specialty trade contractors shouldered a disproportionate share of the loss, with the segment shedding nearly 1.5 million jobs (30 percent) since August 2006. As of March 2013, U.S. construction industry unemployment stood at 14.7 percent.
But labor shortages are on the way due to a combination of retirement demographics, the challenge of attracting younger workers and the anticipated rapid growth of certain key segments. A 2012 McGraw-Hill survey revealed 60 percent of respondents—particularly architectural and engineering firms—are concerned about the loss of knowledge associated with retiring baby boomers. Continue »
The U.S. Department of Justice adopted the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design on Sept. 15, 2010. During an initial transition period, covered public and private entities starting new construction or performing alterations had the option of following either the old 1991 Standards for Accessible Design or the new 2010 Standards. But as of March 15, 2012, all construction projects and modifications must comply with the 2010 standards. Continue »