Jim Kollaer's blog

Another industry group is entering the private exchange game to deal with the complexities of the Affordable Care Act.  The Wichita Business Journal has noted that the Associated General Contractors of America and Willis North America, the global risk advisor, are developing a private exchange to offer defined contribution plans to companies in the industry who are working to comply with the fluid requirements of the ACA or Obamacare.

According to the announcement, “The AGC Alternative”, as it is currently named, will offer its members health benefits or employees at a lower cost, and they will incur less administrative costs as well.   Read more » about AGC and Willis Team to Provide a Private Exchange to Deal with Obamacare

Software Advice has released the results of their 2014 buyer review for construction software.  An article written by Janna Finch, Managing Editor of Software Advice, points out some interesting results.

  • Seventy-eight percent (78%) of buyers (in the Construction industry) have no deployment preference, whereas most buyers in other industries tend to prefer cloud-based systems.
     
  • The most frequently cited reason for buying new (construction) software is increased efficiency or productivity, with 28 percent of the sample saying they hoped to achieve this benefit.

  Read more » about Construction Software Usage Growing

If so, here is an opportunity for you to hear the outlook from some of the leading economists in the industry.  Reed Construction Data is presenting an online conference that features one of our Construction Citizen authors, Ken Simonson, the chief economist for the AGC.

On Thursday, April 17, from 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. EDT, Ken will join Kermit Baker of the AIA and Bernard Markstein of Reed Construction Data for their semiannual insight into the outlook for 2014 construction.  At the end of the presentation, the economists will answer questions from the audience.   Read more » about Wondering About the Outlook for 2014 Construction?

We have been writing about the critical need for controlling security on your jobsite to prevent possible injuries, to track materials, to avoid tool theft, and in the case of the new One World Trade Center building, to protect the construction sites from falling prey to possible terrorism.  This issue is front page again.

CBS New York reported that the newly appointed head of security at the One WTC construction site, former FBI field agent David Velazquez, is taking the fall for recent the security breaches even though the first reported one took place before he had taken over his position.
 
The Velazquez resignation came on the heels of the disclosure that on September 30 of last year, four thrill-seeking BASE jumpers entered the site through a hole in the security fence, climbed the 104 stories to the top of the building, and then jumped in a stunt that would make GoPro proud.

This major breach was not disclosed until six months after it happened and only after a second breach by teenager Justin Casquejo, age 16, of Weehawken, NJ just a week ago.   Read more » about One World Trade Center Security Breached Again

Safety is critical on every construction site.  It matters every minute of every day and not just during the safety talk, incident review, OSHA audit or client incident report.

According to ENR, 31 major contractors are launching the first annual “Safety Week” May 4-10 to bring additional attention to the issue on a nationwide basis.  These contractors are asking other firms to join in to raise the safety consciousness of every worker on every construction site.

From the ENR article, the organizers “belong to either the Construction Industry Safety Initiative or the Injury Free Executive Forum.  The companies in the groups can be fierce competitors, but they also meet regularly and exchange ideas about safety.   Read more » about Safety Matters Every Minute of Every Day!

I interviewed Patrick Jankowski, Chief Economist for the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) after a recent AGC Outlook Breakfast in which Jankowski labeled the current cycle as the “New Normal.”  He stated that this cycle is different in that the past cycles have rocketed from Boom to Bust and back again; however, this time is a new cycle where the boom goes to long term stability.  He told us that a job creation rate of 70,000 or so per year would indeed keep the Houston-Galveston economy growing faster than most other metro areas in the United States.

I asked about some of the big issues that the GHP, the region’s largest business organization, was studying.  Those issues include transportation, education and healthcare.   Read more » about From Boom and Bust to Boom and Stability [VIDEO]

One of our team pointed this article out to me and wondered whether you might like it.  I think that it might expand your thinking about construction in the near future, so here goes.

I admit to being intrigued by 3D printers, robots, drones, driverless cars and trucks, and even nano-scale/molecular scale robots for the delivery of meds that can save lives.  The use of these technologies in construction will make a major impact over the next 5-10 years as labor shortages force their introduction to meet the demand of the projects of tomorrow.

The use of robots in the rebuilding of structures after damage caused by natural disasters like typhoons, earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes adds another dimension in which they can make a difference.   Read more » about Are Termite-Inspired Robots the Construction Crews of the Future? [VIDEO]

There is an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) court case moving through the legal system that potentially could have major impact on every building site, general contractor and subcontractor in the country.  It concerns the “Joint Employer” concept and Discrimination under Title VII.  It is a case that you should have your legal teams and insurers watch closely over the next few months until it is fully resolved.

The case has been filed, decided, reversed and appealed, so you know that it is definitely serious business – especially for the defendant, Skanska USA, and perhaps you as well.  The case, filed by the EEOC in September of 2010, pertains to the construction of a hospital that Skanska USA built for Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis.

In the original suit, the EEOC argued that the general contractor (Skanska USA) allowed the plaintiffs (workers supplied by a small subcontractor, C-1), to be subjected to racial slurs and discrimination on the jobsite and that when the workers complained, Skanska took no action to rectify the conditions other than to retaliate and fire them.   Read more » about EEOC v Skanska – “Joint Employer” Ruling a Game Changer

I had the opportunity to interview Ken Simonson, one of the most respected economists in the country (and one of Construction Citizen’s leading bloggers) after a recent presentation.  He was in Houston to speak at the Associated General Contractors (AGC) 2014 Annual Chapter Meeting and breakfast.  Ken is traveling around the country (when the weather doesn’t ground him) to deliver his thoughts about the industry and the outlook for 2014.

We have covered his presentation on Construction Citizen, but we wanted to ask him a couple of questions like “What’s happening in this midterm election year that might have an impact on the economy?”   Read more » about Interview with Ken Simonson, Chief Economist of AGC America [VIDEO]

We recently attended the signing ceremony for the first alliance between the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and MEMCO, a construction-oriented staffing agency.  Why was it important for us to cover that signing?

Worker safety is the most critical issue in the construction industry today, followed closely by training and certification.  The developing skilled worker shortage has increased the demand for those skilled workers, and construction oriented staffing agencies like MEMCO provide workers on a temporary or contract basis to clients around the country.  MEMCO and OSHA believe that it is critical that those temporary workers have safety training before they go to a worksite to avoid safety issues and reportable accidents when they are under contract.   Read more » about OSHA - MEMCO Alliance Signed in Houston [VIDEO]

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