March 18, 2019
In This Issue
Upcoming Events
2019 ASM Scholarships Deadline Approaching
Member News
Welcome New Member
Thank You To Our 2019 Sponsors
Industry Spotlight- Opioid Crisis
The Impact of the Opioid Epidemic – and What Employers Can Do About It
Member News
Griffin Electric Hosts Career Open House
E.M. Duggan Honors Women In Construction
Improve Your Health And Safety Program Through A FREE Research Study!
Legal
Paid Family And Medical Leave
The U.S. DOl Proposes Raising The Salary Threshold TO $35,308 Per Year FOR Certain "White Collar" Employees
OSHA’s New Standard For Confined Spaces In Construction
Accessing the ASM Hotline
ASM On Social Media
Are you following ASM on Social Media?
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Calendar








Upcoming Events

March 21 - Webinar - Death By Breach; Avoid Cyber Liability

March 22 - Safety Roundtable : Incident Investigation

April 8- Safety Roundtable- I & I Plant Tour  

April 24- Opioid Epidemic Seminar- Waltham (Registration Coming Soon)

May 14- Paid Family & Medical Leave Seminar- Waltham

May 22- Safety Roundtable- Ariel Lifts (Registration Coming Soon)

July 15- ASM Annual Golf Tournament- The International, Bolton (Registration Coming Soon)

November 7- Save the date: Biennial Gala- Granite Links Golf Course

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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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Member News
Welcome New Member



ASM welcomes its newest member Starkweather and Shepley Insurance.
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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 business.

https://www.associatedsubs.com/page/Sponsorship


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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

The opioid 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 right now.

The Impact of the Epidemic on the Country, the State, and the Industry

In the 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 overdose.

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 to 2015.

The 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.

What 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 guide.

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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Member News
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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E.M. Duggan Honors Women In Construction

Click the link below to view a video on Women in construction.

http://www.emduggan.com/duggan-honors-women-in-construction/

 

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Improve Your Health And Safety Program Through A FREE Research Study!

This research study aims to help small to medium subcontractors by conducting a FREE needs assessment for your company and deliver a custom plan and resources to improve your health and safety policies, programs, and practices.

To learn more, click ARM FOR SUBS  for more information!


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Legal
Paid Family And Medical Leave

As everyone is aware, the new Paid Family and Medical Leave law goes into effect this year. Regulations are currently being drafted. We urge all members to contact ASM with questions or concerned that you may have. ASM will host live program on May 14th on this topic.

Click here to read a copy of ASM’s comments on the initial draft regulations to the new Department of Family and Medical Leave. Special thanks to Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP for their employment law expertise and assistance to ASM with these comments.

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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:

  • Raising the salary threshold for “highly compensated employees” to $147,414 per year (up from $100,000)

  • Allowing 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 www.regulations.gov.

HRW will continue to update its clients concerning any new developments. Employers with questions in the meantime should contact HRW’s attorneys.

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OSHA’s New Standard For Confined Spaces In Construction

By: Jason Rogers, Kenney & Sams, P.C.

The 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, crawl spaces, tanks, and pits). The Confined Spaces Standards went into effect on August 3, 2015.

The 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 project; and

  • The "entry employer," whose employees will access the confined space.

These 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.

Residential Construction

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 assistance).

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?”

Resources

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

As 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 mail@associatedsubs.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.

Employment 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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ASM On Social Media
Are you following ASM on Social Media?

Please take a moment to like the ASM Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

 



 

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Published by:

Associated Subcontractors of Massachusetts, Inc.
15 Court Square, Ste. 840
Boston, MA 02108

617-742-3412

 
http://www.associatedsubs.com