After a tough year, the US economy continues to show signs of recovery. Coronavirus cases are falling, the number of vaccinations is still increasing, unemployment claims are down, business investment is increasing and confidence among business leaders is high. Economists surveyed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia predicted that U.S. production would increase by 4.5 percent this year, making it the best year since 1999.
But many industries still face major challenges in terms of to make these recovery predictions come true. Here in New York, the construction industry is facing two major issues that threaten to impose burdensome rules on entrepreneurs and significantly increase the costs of larger projects. It can put a serious damper on the recovery in the state.
Let's take a look at these two issues …
- NEW HERO ACT (Senate Bill S1034A) . On March 1, 2021, the New York State Senate approved the Senate Bill S1034A otherwise known as the NY HERO ACT. If enacted, the law would require companies to implement enforceable safety standards to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and other airborne infectious diseases. The law also requires minimum requirements for workplace safety standards that companies must follow, including test protocols, personal protective equipment (PPE), social distancing, personal hygiene, disinfection and other measures. Strict penalties will be imposed on companies that do not comply with them. Finally, the law would require the state to create a model for the prevention of exposure to infectious diseases for employers that sets minimum requirements for preventing exposure in the workplace to airborne infectious diseases.
Opponents of the law have a couple of specific complaints. First, the bill would expose employers to more litigation under a "private right of action" that would allow workers to sue for non-compliance with COVID-19 security protocols. Secondly, the bill would require all companies with ten or more employees to form a joint occupational safety and health committee. Members could address health and safety issues to which the employer must respond and participate in training without loss of pay. Basically, it would establish a form of collective bargaining between employers and employees, even if the business has no union representation.
- Ställningslagen (Labor Law 240) . As new construction increases, industry groups are once again closing in on the decades-old law. Three New York-based entrepreneurship groups – the Minority & Women Contractors & Developers Association, the Associated General Contractors of New York State and the General Contractors Association of New York, along with the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials – have asked Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg to use regulatory issue from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to circumvent the $ 11.6 billion building contract for contractors working on the Hudson River Tunnel construction project. New York Governor Cuomo received a similar request last year from a group called the Scaffold Law Reform Coalition.
These groups claim that the Scaffolding Act, with its "absolute responsibility" standard, will increase the cost of the Hudson River Tunnel project anywhere. from $ 180 million to $ 300 million. They also claim that the huge financial settlements paid out in civil lawsuits continue to drive up liability insurance rates and drive many insurers completely out of the market. the state. For New York construction employers, the message is clear …
Now more than ever, your safety and risk management initiatives are crucial.
At BNC Agency, we have been insuring the New York construction industry for more than 150 years. This means that we are experienced partners that you can trust to help you navigate this evolving industry. Call us today.