National Construction Safety Week: Preventing Accidents on the JobsiteEven as the construction industry continues its recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it also continues to focus on worker safety. Consistent with this focus, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) scheduled the eighth annual “National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction” event for May 3-7, 2021. OSHA encouraged construction employers and other stakeholders to join the event in order to promote awareness and training on how to better control fall-related hazards. If you did not participate last week, you can still hold a separate National Stand-Down event to emphasize employee safety on your work sites.

Initially, it does not take much effort for an employer to get ready to participate in an National Stand-Down event. Other than the time it takes to get the word out to worksites and to pull information about a fall prevention program together, there is little preparation necessary. An employer already has what it needs most: a fall prevention program. Helpfully, OSHA has also provided suggestions and additional resources on its website that an employer can use to prepare for a successful event. OSHA even provides links to resources, posters, handouts, and other potentially useful material.

During the National Stand-Down, an employer can focus communication on any of the many types of falls that can happen. These include falls:

  • From ladders
  • From a roof
  • From a scaffold
  • Down a set of stairs
  • From structural steel
  • Through a floor or roof opening
  • Through a fragile roof surface

Of course, the talk should include more than discussion of the risks associated with these types of falls. It should also include discussion on how these falls can be prevented, i.e., the employer’s fall protection program, and any improvements to the program that might be considered.

An employer can promote the National Stand-Down with as much or as little fanfare as it wishes. As long as an employer is using the time to promote awareness of the risks associated with a fall and training employees on fall prevention, the employer’s event is “on the mark.” In fact, something as basic as a short, focused “Toolbox Talk” at each worksite should suffice. One note of potential importance: An employer should remember that requiring employees to participate in a National Stand-Down event (which it should do) likely makes the time compensable, i.e., an employee likely must be paid for the time.

Finally, although there is little, if any, downside to an employer holding an independent event, employers should recognize that there is a potentially huge upside: The additional education/training may help improve the safety of employees on its worksite. Remember, as far as the “hurt factor” goes, the potential risk of injury associated with a fall from a height is very high. When an employee is injured from a fall, the injury can be catastrophic. Tragically, almost 40% of annual recorded construction fatalities happen as the result of a fall. If a National Stand-Down event prevents even one such incident, that would be a great return on a small investment.

Bradley Attorneys Receive JD Supra 2021 Readers’ Choice AwardsBradley attorneys Aron Beezley and Aman Kahlon recently received JD Supra “Readers’ Choice” awards for being among the top authors and thought leaders in 2021. Aron Beezley was named a “JD Supra Top Author” in the government contracting category. Aman Kahlon was named a “JD Supra Top Author” in the construction category.

Aron Beezley, co-leader of the firm’s Government Contracts Practice Group, is a partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. Aman Kahlon, a member of the firm’s Construction and Procurement Practice Group, is a partner in the firm’s Birmingham, Alabama office.

These Bradley attorneys were among 265 authors who were honored in 2021 from a pool of more than 60,000 contributors.

The full list of 2021 honorees can be found here.

New Exec. Order Increases Federal Contractor Min. Wage to $15 Per Hr.President Biden recently signed an executive order (EO) that will increase the minimum wage rate to be paid to workers performing work on or in connection with a federal contract from $10.95 per hour to $15.00 per hour beginning January 30, 2022.

The EO states that federal executive departments and agencies shall, to the extent permitted by law, ensure that contracts and contract-like instruments include a new wage clause that the contractor and any covered subcontractors shall incorporate into lower-tier subcontracts. This clause shall specify that, as a condition of payment, the minimum wage to be paid to workers employed in the performance of the contract or any covered subcontract thereunder shall be at least $15.00 per hour, beginning January 30, 2022. Then, beginning January 2, 2023, and annually thereafter, the secretary of labor shall determine whether any cost-of-living increase to the hourly rate is required.

The EO further states that the secretary shall issue implementing regulations by November 24, 2021, and that within 60 days of the secretary issuing such regulations, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council shall amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation to provide “for inclusion in Federal procurement solicitations, contracts, and contract-like instruments subject to this order the clause described” above.

Finally, the EO states that, where a contract or contract-like instrument is governed by the Service Contract Act or the Davis-Bacon Act, the order “shall apply only to contracts or contract-like instruments at the thresholds specified in those statutes.” For contracts covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, that act applies when the contract value exceeds the micro-purchase threshold. Because the applicability thresholds for these acts are low — $2,500, $2,000, and $10,000, respectively — the wage rates established by these laws generally shall apply, assuming the wage rates are higher than $15.00 per hour.

If you have any questions about this noteworthy development, please feel free to contact Aron Beezley or Patrick Quigley.