|In This Issue|
|2019 ASM Scholarships Deadline Approaching
Deadline Approaching: Applications will be
accepted until April 1st for eight ASM 2019 Scholarships totaling
$10,000. Four $2,000 scholarships will be awarded to ASM Member employees and
immediate family members (spouse/child), who are enrolling in an accredited
college or university. In addition, 2- year community college students are
eligible to apply. Also, four $500 trade school scholarships will be awarded.
Click here for more information.
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|Thank You To Our 2019 Sponsors
We would like to take a moment to thank our 2019 Sponsors- Platinum, Gold
and Silver listed on the sidebar of this newsletter. If you are interested, we
have sponsorship packages for all budgets and great opportunities to increase
your exposure, strengthen your brand and help ASM and the subcontracting
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|Industry Spotlight- Opioid Crisis|
|The Impact of the Opioid Epidemic – and What Employers Can Do About It
By: Michael Botticelli,The Grayken Center for Addiction, Boston Medical Center
epidemic has hit the building trades in Massachusetts like a tidal wave. In the
construction industry, the opioid death rate is six times the average rate for all Massachusetts workers. This is a
massive problem, but it’s not limited to this industry – it’s affecting
industries across the state and the country. That said, there are steps that
everyone, and particularly construction companies and subcontractors, can take
Impact of the Epidemic on the Country, the State, and the Industry
United States, the epidemic has been spreading geographically and throughout
all demographic groups. One of the most definitive ways of measuring the impact
of the epidemic is through overdose deaths, and according to the Centers for
Disease Control, drug overdoses killed over 70,000 Americans in 2017. This
means more Americans have died of overdoses than those who have died of guns,
car crashes, or HIV/AIDS in any given year. It means that more Americans have
died of overdoses than all US military casualties in the Vietnam and Iraq wars
combined. 66% of those deaths involved a prescription or illicit opioid like
heroin and fentanyl. Overdose deaths increased in all categories of drugs
examined for men and women, people ages 15 and older, all races and
ethnicities, and across all levels of urbanization.
Massachusetts has been one of the
most affected states, with 2,227 deaths in 2016. This number makes Massachusetts one of the top ten states with regards to overdose deaths. Furthermore, the impact of the epidemic isn’t
limited to a small group of people; a majority of Massachusetts residents know
someone addicted to opioids, and over a quarter know someone who died from an
And although many in the state
are affected, there are some industries that see higher rates of addiction and
overdose. Within the construction industry, the opioid death rate is six times the average rate for all
Massachusetts workers. Construction and extraction workers accounted for almost
a quarter of all opioid-related deaths among the working population from 2011
Impact of the Epidemic on the economy
The epidemic has also hurt the
economy. One estimate put the national economic costs of the opioid epidemic at
$504 billion as of 2015, or 2.8% of the GDP. The majority of these costs are
due to nonfatal consequences like healthcare spending, criminal justice costs,
and lost productivity due to addiction and incarceration. The other 27% of
costs are attributed directly to overdose deaths, and the lost potential
earnings. Princeton Economist Alan Kruger suggests that the epidemic accounts
for a 20% decline in labor force participation among men.
In Massachusetts, calculations
from the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation puts the cost of lost productivity
and wages at over $70 billion since 2000, averaging $7 billion in slowed
economic growth for the past five years.The Foundation report found that opioid use disorder has kept 32,600 people
in Massachusetts from participating in the workforce over the last 7 years.
Given other economic factors like an aging workforce and low unemployment, the
impact of this lost productivity is particularly problematic. And the epidemic
hasn’t just led to unemployment. Among the employed, the epidemic has had a
major impact. 143,000 people reported pain reliever misuse, causing an average
of 18 more days off of work.
Your Company Can Do
As massive as these problems
might seem, the personal and economic costs of addiction are not inevitable.
Addiction can be treated effectively, and people can and do achieve long-term
recovery. Addiction is a medical condition that impairs health and function and
is characterized by the prolonged, repeated misuse of a substance. It is a
chronic disease---like diabetes, hypertension and asthma. And like those other
chronic diseases, addiction can be managed successfully. In fact, most people
who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs.
At Boston Medical Center (BMC),
we have long history of caring for those with addiction. Over the last 25 years, BMC has become one of
the most comprehensive and influential centers for addiction treatment in the
country. And in 2017, we launched The Grayken Center for Addiction with a
generous gift from the Grayken family – the largest private gift in the US in
the last decade in the addiction field.
From the start, we thought about
how to help the greatest number of people. We knew that people in every
industry were affected – including healthcare. One of our first acts was to
look at our own employees and try to understand what how they were impacted by
the epidemic, and how we could help. We found that almost a third of BMC’s
employees had an immediate family member who had experience with a substance
use disorder. We also found that a majority of those surveyed did not know what
mental health and/or substance use treatment services their health insurance
covered. And many were afraid to speak to a manager about their concerns due to
their desire for the information to stay confidential and their fear of missing
out on possible career advancement.
We knew that we had to do
something to address these problems. And more than one thing – we had to try
many different strategies to reduce stigma and fear, and increase the awareness
of the help that was available, that employees just didn’t know about.
To address stigma, we did a few things. Our CEO signed a letter from NAMI
Massachusetts (the National Association of Mental Illness), pledging to be a
CEO Against Stigma. We developed the “Words Matter” pledge, outlining how
certain words (addict, abuser) can actually hurt the chances that a person with
a substance use disorder can recover, and shared it with all our employees, in
every department. Each September, we celebrate Recovery Month on campus,
handing out the Words Matter pledge as well as resources about various types of
substance use treatment we offer, and essential human resources information.
And our Human Resources
department led the charge on helping our employees understand how to navigate
the care system. They worked to help employees understand their coverage, and
provide the support they needed. This included expanding our care navigation
services for employees, developing a mental health and addiction resource guide
with specific information, offering a group for family members dealing with a
loved one with addiction. They worked to make sure our drug and alcohol
policies were clear and centered around employees’ health. And furthermore,
they made sure to share this updated information and support with all new
employees at their orientation.
In the process of developing this
multi-faceted approach, we realized that what we learned, and the programs and
policies that we developed, could be helpful to other organizations. We created
a free online Employer Resource Library (bmc.org/library), with the tools and resources that employers can use to address
the impact of substance use disorders in their own organization. On the site we
offer 25 downloadable tools, in five key categories – from working with
managers to developing policies and practices.
Two of the most important areas
that employers can address are reviewing your benefits and creating a more
open, stigma-free culture. Contracts for health benefits should ensure that
employees are offered high-quality, evidence based treatment, particularly
medications for addiction treatment. The Massachusetts Health Policy Forum put
forward recommendations for employers that include steps like removing co-pays
and prior authorization on opioid use disorder-related medicines and
counseling. Your benefits contracts should support health care providers who
offer alternative pain therapies to opioids, and provide guidance to those
providers. Once you have quality
benefits in place, it’s also up to employers to make sure that employees know
about it – through regular communication and a comprehensive employee resource
To reduce stigma, everyone needs
to be engaged, including top executives. Leadership shapes company culture, and
when CEOs and other senior leaders are clear that they support an open dialogue
about mental illness and substance use disorders in the workplace, it matters.
Engaging the organization on a broader scale might include an employee survey,
sharing a “Words Matter” pledge like BMC’s, or providing open forums for
employees to discuss their experience and their needs in regards to the opioid
epidemic. This is not comprehensive, but it’s a place to start. As our Senior
Vice President and Chief of Human Resources Lisa Kelly-Croswell often says,
“You don’t have to do everything, but it’s important to do something.”
As we’ve started sharing our
Employer Resource Library, we heard from individuals working at companies in
many industries, hoping to address this issue. And many have taken action -
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts created an opioid overdose tool kit
with naloxone to allow employers to reverse overdoses right away. Most
importantly, the business community can lead by example and eliminate stigma and
create recovery-friendly workplaces to encourage more people to come forward,
seek help, and reclaim their lives. Some of these companies have already
started engaging employees and supporting them through their experience with
the epidemic. We know that we can all learn from each other, so we hope to
build a community of employers exchanging ideas that will help us fight the
epidemic. Despite the numbers of people affected by the opioid epidemic in
every industry throughout the state, there is hope. There are things we can all
do, and employers have a powerful role to play.
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|Griffin Electric Hosts Career Open House
ASM member Wayne J. Griffin Electric, Inc. (Griffin
Electric), a leading electrical subcontractor throughout New England and the
Southeast, recently held career information sessions as part of an Open House
at its headquarters in Holliston, MA for those interested in learning more
about a possible career in the electrical trade. Nearly 50 participants attended the event,
which included local high school students, parents, veteran representatives, and
other individuals interested in a career change. Griffin’s outreach efforts for the Open House
were designed to introduce groups unfamiliar with the trades to the potential
benefits of a career as an electrician or telecom technician.
Attendees of the event listened to presentations about
the company and its free inhouse Apprenticeship Training Program, toured the
company’s facilities, and even had an opportunity to observe current
apprentices and instructors engaged in training. Throughout the school year, classroom and
hands-on instruction takes place in the 27,500-sf of dedicated training space
that is part of the headquarters in Holliston, and on-site at each of the
company’s regional offices in Pelham, AL; Duluth, GA; Charlotte, NC; and
Raleigh Durham, NC.
For more than 25 years, Griffin Electric’s
Apprenticeship Training Program has prepared hundreds of students for their
electrical journeyperson licensing exam, allowing them to pursue successful
careers in the electrical trade. The
program is accredited by the National Center for Construction Education and
Research (NCCER) and designated as an approved training site by the U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs. In
addition to classroom instruction, Griffin’s apprentices benefit from
on-the-job learning, where they earn a competitive wage while gaining practical
field experience under the supervision of a licensed journeyperson. The
company’s partnership with Wentworth Institute of Technology also provides
graduates of the program who have achieved their electrical license with a great
opportunity to earn nearly half the credits towards an Associate of Applied
Science in Engineering Technology degree.
Griffin Electric covers up to 70% of tuition costs to ease the financial
burden for those who are accepted into the Wentworth program.
Griffin’s recruitment efforts are not only an
important part of building its dedicated workforce, but also exposes different
audiences, including younger generations, to the electrical service
industry. Introducing the apprenticeship
pathway as an option to “earn while you learn” at Griffin Electric allows young
people the chance to experience the benefits of a trade first-hand. Earning competitive wages higher than many
entry-level jobs is only the first step towards a fulfilling career. The company strives to help students
understand that just getting any job can sometimes be temporary, but having a
life-long skilled trade is a career they will always carry with them.
About Wayne J. Griffin Electric, Inc. In the
electrical contracting business since 1978, Wayne J. Griffin Electric, Inc.
proudly celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2018. Headquartered in Holliston, MA, the company
also has regional offices in Pelham, AL, Duluth, GA, Charlotte, NC and
Raleigh-Durham, NC. ENR (Engineering
News-Record) ranked Griffin Electric 24th in its 2018 listing of the top 50
national electrical contractors and 1st in New England. The company employs
nearly 1400 individuals. For more
information, please visit www.waynejgriffinelectric.com.
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|Improve Your Health And Safety Program Through A FREE Research Study!
research study aims to help small to medium subcontractors by conducting a FREE needs assessment for your company
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|The U.S. DOl Proposes Raising The Salary Threshold TO $35,308 Per Year FOR Certain "White Collar" Employees
By: Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, workers are entitled to
overtime pay of 1 ½ times their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 in
a workweek, but there are exemptions for executive, administrative, and
professional employees (among other exemptions). To qualify for one of these three exemptions,
an employee must meet both a “duties” test and a “salary” test. Under current
salary test regulations, which have been in place since 2004, most employees
must generally be paid a salary of at least $455 per week. ($23,660 annually). In 2016, the Department of Labor (“DOL”)
issued regulations raising that salary threshold to $921 per week ($47,892
annually). A federal district court held
those regulations to be invalid.
This week, the DOL issued a proposal to raise the salary
threshold to $679 per week ($35,308 annually).
In addition, among other things, the DOL has proposed:
the salary threshold for “highly compensated employees” to $147,414 per year
(up from $100,000)
non-discretionary bonuses and incentive compensation (including commissions)
paid on an annual or more frequent basis to be used to satisfy up to 10% of the
standard salary threshold of $679 per week, with an opportunity for a “catch
up” payment at the end of the work year.
The DOL has also indicated that it intends to propose
updates to the standard salary threshold and the compensation level for highly
compensated employees every four years.
The DOL has not proposed any changes to the duties test.
The DOL’s proposed changes will, if adopted, likely face
court challenge. Irrespective of any court challenge, if the DOL’s proposed
regulations become effective, they will result in a considerable expansion of
the number of employees entitled to overtime.
The DOL’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking invites the public
to submit comments on the proposed changes in writing within 60 days after the
date of publication on the federal register. Comments may be submitted at
HRW will continue to update its clients concerning any new
developments. Employers with questions in the meantime should contact HRW’s
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|OSHA’s New Standard For Confined Spaces In Construction
Jason Rogers, Kenney
& Sams, P.C.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published standards governing Confined Spaces in
Construction (29 C.F.R. 1926, Subpart AA) ("Confined Spaces Standards"), to provide added
protections to employees performing work in confined spaces. Specifically,
spaces (a) large enough for a worker to enter with (b) limited or restricted means of entry of exit and (c) not designed for continuous occupancy
(e.g., sewers, manholes, HVAC ducts, boilers,
spaces, tanks, and pits). The Confined Spaces Standards went into effect
on August 3, 2015.
New Confined Spaces Standards apply to the following parties:
The "host employer," such as the owner or property manager of the site;
The "controlling contractor,"
that is, the party having primary control over
The "entry employer," whose employees will access the confined space.
parties are subject to a comprehensive set of requirements designed to protect
employees from exposure to hazards associated with work in confined spaces. The
requests include the following:
Sit evaluation by a competent person to identify confined spaces
Continuous employer monitoring of confined space atmospheres, including lookouts or equipment to monitor, for example, engulfment hazards like flash flooding in storm sewers;
Training workers on location and hazards of
permit-required confined spaces;
Maintaining a written confined space program if workers will enter
permit-required confined spaces; and
Ensuring that unauthorized workers do not enter permit-required confined spaces. Additionally, if there are multiple trades working in the same confined spaces,
employees must coordinate activities to avoid introducing hazards into confined
spaces from outside work areas.
The heaviest burden of onsite administrative falls on the controlling contractor, who must act as the
primary point of contact for information about the permitted confined spaces at the worksite and ensure that all required information is communicated to the entry employer. The
controlling contractor also is charged with implementing the above requirement,
including taking steps to prevent the introduction of "outside"
hazards to confined spaces. For example, if the host employer's employees will
be running a generator near the entrance of a confined space, the controlling
contractor must inform the entry employer if the generator exhaust could result
in increased levels of carbon monoxide.
Permit-Required Confined Space
A confined space that contains certain hazardous conditions may be considered a permit-required confined space under the standard. Permit-required confined spaces can be immediately dangerous to workers' lives if not properly identified, evaluated, tested and controlled. A permit-required confined space means a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics:
Contains or has the potential to
contain a hazardous atmosphere;
Contains a material that has the
potential for engulfing an entrant;
Has an internal configuration such
that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or
by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section; or
Contains any other recognized
serious safety or health hazard.
Prior to starting work on a residential
project, an employer must ensure that a competent person identifies confined spaces where one or more of its employees may
work and identifies each space that is a permit-required confined space.
Employers do not have to physically examine each attic, basement, crawl space,
provided that they reliably determine whether spaces with the same or similar
layouts contain a hazard that would require a permit.
Some spaces in a residential home
may be considered confined spaces or permit-required confined spaces. An attic,
for example, will not be considered a confined space because there is not
limited or restricted means for entry and exit. According to a publication by
OSHA and the National Association of Home Builders ("NAHB"), attics
determined to be confined spaces would generally not be permit-required
confined spaces because they typically do not contain the types of hazards or
potential hazards that make a confined space a permit-required confined space
(those that could impair an entrant's ability to exit the space without
Basements in a residential home
that are designed for continuous occupancy by a homeowner are not considered
confined spaces under the Standards. Nor
are crawl spaces.
The requirements imposed by the
Confined Spaces Standards are comprehensive and detailed, and this article is
intended to provide a general summary only. Contractors and subcontractors
should take appropriate steps to familiarize themselves with OSHA's Confined Spaces
Standards and should consult legal counsel if necessary to ensure compliance.
Employers must ensure that properly trained rescue and emergency services are
available before entry into permit-required confined spaces. For a full
discussion of an entry employer's obligations to provide rescue, see OSHA's
Fact Sheet entitled: “911 your Confined Space Rescue Plan?”
For Additional information see
OSHA's Confined Spaces in Construction webpage at http://www.osha.gov/confinedspaces.
How to Contact OSHA
For questions or to get information
or advice, to find out how to contact OSHA's free on-site consultation program,
order publications, report a fatality or severe injury, or to file a
confidential complaint, visit http://www.osha.gov or call 1-800-321-0SHA (6742).
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|Accessing the ASM Hotline
an employer, you face a myriad of issues including employee leave,
discrimination, wage and hour rules, hiring and termination.
As a construction business, you face a host of issues through the life
of a project, including bidding, contract terms, payment and more. When
issues arise, it’s often hard to know what to do. There is an easy way to get quick answers to your questions – ASM’s Hotline –FREE to ASM Members.
How do I access the Hotline?
Send an email to email@example.com. We will forward your question
to the appropriate attorney who will respond by phone or email.
Who are the attorneys?
Construction questions are referred to JohnM. Curran, Esq. at the law firm of Corwin & Corwin LLP, which has served as legal counsel to ASM for more than 65 years.
questions are referred to David B. Wilson, Esq. and Catherine E.
Reuben,Esq., at the law firm of Hirsch Roberts Weinstein, LLP.
Insurance questions are referred to David M. O’Connor, Esq. at the law firm of O’Connor & Associates, LLC.
What if I already have my own lawyer? You can still call the Hotline. It is a privilege of membership in ASM.
What kind of help can I expect?
The attorney will typically spend 5-15 minutes addressing questions
that can be answered easily based on years of experience in their areas
of practice. You will receive information to help you determine whether
to handle the issue yourself or to seek professional help to pursue
legal action. The Hotline is limited in scope and does not include
research or document preparation.
To pursue legal action, do I have to use the Hotline attorney? No.
You are free to use your own attorney or you may retain a hotline
attorney. The choice is up to you and it is a private matter between you
and the attorney.
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Please take a moment to like the
ASM Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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