I hope you enjoyed my recent webinar on payment techniques for contractors in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. If you missed it, you can access the recording here. Below are some of the highlights:

Payment Techniques

Traditional payment techniques for contractors include asking for payment in writing with a list of your claims. Such letters can serve as important documentation to establish that your claim was asserted and that you complied with contractual notice provisions. If you later end up in court, it can show that you attempted to work things out.

For additional leverage, mechanic’s liens are a great tool to increase bargaining power during negotiations on private jobs. For federal and state jobs, you must file a bond claim (mechanic’s liens generally are not available on such jobs). Washington, DC and Maryland also have prompt pay statutes that can provide additional leverage on private jobs because they allow the contractor to recover attorney’s fees and interest on unpaid amounts.


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The past six months have seen plenty of activity from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The following recaps the developments affecting the construction industry. As each changes the regulatory landscape, construction professionals should take heed to ensure compliance initiatives stay up to date.

The Fifth Circuit Joins the Club of Jurisdictions Enforcing “Multi-Employer Worksite Doctrine” 
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On October 10, 2018, the amendments to the Contractor and Subcontractor Payment Act, 73 P.S. § 501, et seq. (CASPA) will take effect and significantly impact the rights and duties of owners, contractors, and subcontractors on all Pennsylvania commercial construction projects and some residential projects.

First passed in 1994, CASPA was enacted as a tool for contractors and subcontractors to receive timely payment. As most in the industry know, the statute sets forth payment procedures and timetables, and it defines what constitutes a wrongful withholding of payment. Violations may result in significant penalties, such as statutory interest, penalty interest, and assessment of attorneys’ fees and costs.


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Effective October 1, 2018, general contractors with projects in Maryland will have a new headache to deal with. That’s when Maryland’s new law, the General Contractor Liability for Unpaid Wages Act, will go into effect. Under the Act, GCs will be jointly and severally liable for the failure of any subcontractors on the GC’s project to comply with Maryland’s existing wage and hour law. GCs will have to ensure that all of their subcontractors (including any sub-subcontractors or other firms they hire) pay their employees in accordance with Maryland law.
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Recent OSHA activity indicates possible changes in the scope and enforcement of the newly-created Improve Tracking of Workplace Injury and Illnesses Rule (Electronic Reporting Rule). OSHA intends to collect less data than the rule requires in order to address concerns about publicizing personally identifiable information (PII). This move suggests other changes to the rule may follow. 
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A recent federal appeals court decision rejected a challenge to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s new rule for respirable crystalline silica (silica) exposure in the construction industry (the Silica Rule), keeping the rule largely intact. This new rule lowers the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for silica to fifty micrograms per cubic meter (50μ/m3) from the previous construction industry standard of 250 μ/m3. At the time OSHA began enforcing the Silica Rule on September 23, 2017, there still remained pending in federal court a challenge to the rule brought by multiple industry groups (Industry), mostly consisting of commercial construction trade associations representing general contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers. 
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Traditionally, public agencies have awarded construction contracts via the “lowest responsible bidder” procurement method, where bidders submit sealed bids and contracts are awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. However, a number of governmental entities have started to award contracts through “best value” procurement, which looks at factors other than price. Quality, experience, and expertise of the bidders also are relevant considerations when selecting contractors or vendors under a “best value” procurement format.

Following the trend, on May 16, 2017, Philadelphians approved a ballot measure that amended the City’s Home Rule Charter to allow the City to award certain contracts based on the “best value” standard, in addition to the “lowest responsible bidder” approach. Shortly thereafter, on July 27, 2017, the City issued regulations governing the award of contracts based on the “best value” method.
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UPDATE: On November 22, 2017, OSHA announced that it moved the electronic reporting deadline for 2016 data and information from December 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017. The following blog post has been updated to reflect this change. No other parts of the new electronic submission regulations were changed.

December 15, 2017 is the final deadline to comply with the newly implemented Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) regulations that require electronically submitting 2016 workplace injury data and information to OSHA. To help navigate these regulations, here are few reminders about this new reporting format that affects almost all construction industry businesses.


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This article was originally published in the 2017 edition of the Utility and Transportation Contractor Association’s Magazine.

If you are a union contractor, you are probably making contributions into one or more union pension funds every month. These pension funds, known as multi-employer pension plans (MEPs), rely on a number of employers paying their share toward a common fund. Notably, because of the nature of these pension plans, many (if not all) of them are underfunded and do not presently have enough assets to cover their expectant liabilities. However, despite underfunding, employees are still entitled to their full pension benefits. But who is responsible for this unfunded amount, and what happens if you exit the fund? 
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Have you ever been in a situation where your subcontractor or fabricator did not have the financial ability to purchase material needed for a project? Have you ever offered your assistance by way of either directly purchasing the material and providing it to the subcontractor/fabricator or advancing funds to the subcontractor/fabricator to allow for the purchase? While this arrangement has its advantages, contractors should be aware of their exposure, particularly if the subcontractor/fabricator has financial issues down the road. Even though a contractor fronts the funds to purchase the materials, it could lose its interest in those materials to the subcontractor/fabricator’s lender, especially if that lender holds a security interest in the subcontractor/fabricator’s inventory. 
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