AWI e-briefs
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Architectural Woodwork Institute
November 18, 2021
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COVID-19 Updates

US Dept. of Labor Issues Emergency Temporary Standard to Protect Workers from Coronavirus

On Nov. 4, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a new emergency temporary standard (ETS) to protect more than 84 million workers from the spread of the coronavirus on the job.

Under this standard, covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work.

Since 2020, the coronavirus has led to the deaths of 750,000 people in the US, and the infection of millions more, making it the deadliest pandemic in the nation’s history. Many of the people killed and infected by this virus were workers whose primary exposures occurred at their jobs. OSHA estimates that this rule will save thousands of lives and prevent more than 250,000 hospitalizations due to workplace exposure to COVID-19 over the course of the ETS.

The emergency temporary standard covers employers with 100 or more employees—firm or company-wide—and provides options for compliance. The ETS also requires employers to provide paid time to workers to get vaccinated and to allow for paid leave to recover from any side effects.

In addition, the ETS requires employers to do the following:

  • Determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination status from vaccinated employees and maintain records and a roster of each employee’s vaccination status.
  • Require employees to provide prompt notice when they test positive for COVID-19 or receive a COVID-19 diagnosis. Employers must then remove the employee from the workplace, regardless of vaccination status; employers must not allow them to return to work until they meet required criteria.
  • Ensure each worker who is not fully vaccinated is tested for COVID-19 at least weekly (if the worker is in the workplace at least once a week) or within 7 days before returning to work (if the worker is away from the workplace for a week or longer).
  • Ensure that, in most circumstances, each employee who has not been fully vaccinated wears a face covering when indoors or when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes.

The emergency temporary standard does not require employers to pay for testing. Employers may be required to pay for testing to comply with other laws, regulations, collective bargaining agreements, or other collectively negotiated agreements. Employers are also not required to pay for face coverings.

OSHA is offering robust compliance assistance to help businesses implement the standard, including a webinar, frequently asked questions and other compliance materials.

The ETS will cover two-thirds of the nation’s private-sector workforce. In the 26 states and two territories with OSHA State Plans, the ETS will also cover public sector workers employed by state and local governments, including educators and school staff.

The ETS is effective immediately upon its publication on Nov. 5 in the Federal Register. Employers must comply with most requirements within 30 days of publication and with testing requirements within 60 days of publication.

The ETS also serves as a proposal for normal rulemaking for a final standard. OSHA is seeking comment on all aspects of this ETS and whether the agency should adopt it as a final standard.

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Other COVID News & Analysis & Court Order

Meanwhile, according to OSHA’s COVID ETS page, “On Nov. 12, 2021, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted a motion to stay OSHA's COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard, published on November 5, 2021 (86 Fed. Reg. 61402) ("ETS"). The court ordered that OSHA ‘take no steps to implement or enforce’ the ETS ‘until further court order.’ While OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending future developments in the litigation.”

The Center for Construction Research and Training has published information in its CPWR Update (free subscription) updating its COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard with September’s information about trends and patterns of COVID-19 vaccination and hesitancy among construction workers.  Read more here.

In a November 8th edition of Construction Dive (free subscription), it addresses a unique perk that some small firms are extending to workers: not requiring vaccinations as currently mandated by OSHA for firms with 100 or more employees.  Read more here.

ConstructConnect (free subscription) released a detailed article about the COVID vaccine mandate, explaining what it means to the construction industry.  Learn more here.

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COVID Relief: IRS Helps Employers Wanting to Rehire Retirees or Retain Employees after Retirement Age

To help address COVID-related labor shortages, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reminds employers that they generally will not jeopardize the tax status of their pension plans if they rehire retirees or permit distributions of retirement benefits to current employees who have reached age 59 ½ or the plan’s normal retirement age.

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AWI Standards

Reminder: Comments Due Nov. 29 on Proposed AWI 1236—Countertops Standard

Last month the AWI Standards Development Team  announced that AWI 1236—Countertops Standard was submitted to ANSI to initiate a SECOND round of public comment and to recirculate the Standard as substantive changes were made to the Standard in response to comments received during the previous Public Comment and Canvass period.

The AWI Technical Committee made changes in response to the feedback obtained during the INITIAL  Public Comment and Canvass period to improve the draft Standard. The Committee considered the views of stakeholders and determined that substantive changes to the Standard would ultimately result in a better standard for the industry.

The Public Comment period is open through Nov. 29, 2021. Members of the AWI 1236 – Countertops Canvass Group received an email with instructions and information on the recirculation draft.

For questions or additional information contact Hunter Morrison or Cheri Dermyre.

For more information on the AWI approved ANSI procedures, please click here.

The Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) has produced and collaborated on the development of standards in accordance with its mission since its founding in 1953 to the present day. AWI is an ANSI-accredited Standards Developer Organization.

Founded in 1918, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private non-profit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system and is committed to strengthening its impact, both domestically and internationally.  ANSI represents the diverse interests of more than 270,000 companies and organizations, and 30 million professionals.

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AWI/QCP Outreach

CSI Events Open Doors for Collaboration between Woodworkers & Specifiers

AWI Carolinas Chapter members Kristine Cox and Lynne Leach represented AWI at the 37th Annual Charleston Chapter CSI Product Fair on Oct. 27. Running a photo loop of AWI Member projects featured in Design Solutions Magazine, and hosting a table laden with goodies and the latest information on the ANSI/AWI Standards, they answered questions and encouraged attendees to develop relationships with their local AWI Member companies.

The Ohio Valley Chapter of AWI presented “Designing with Hardwood Veneer” at the CSI EDUCON event for the CSI Cincinnati Chapter on Nov. 9.  The event provided three continuing education seminars for the local Specifiers who attended the event.   Larry Musil and Mike Maccio from M. Bohlke Veneer along with Bob Krejci from Riverside Construction were the presenters representing the Ohio Valley Chapter.  The Ohio Valley Chapter also had a tabletop display showcasing local projects and samples from local AWI Chapter members as well as the new AWI Standards.  Attendees showed interest in AWI membership and learning more about the new AWI Standards.

Greg Parham, AWI VP of compliance, and Margaret Fisher, AWI communications strategist, represented AWI at the SCIP Conference in Grapevine, TX, Oct. 31 – Nov. 2. Unlike the specification writers who are directly employed by an architectural firm or product manufacturer, the Specification Consultants in Independent Practice (SCIP) attendees are specification writers working independently, referencing AWI Standards in the construction documents they may be preparing for a wide range of firms or entities. Greg and Margaret also attended the one-day Education Day designed to foster working relationships between specification writer mentors and emerging professionals through deeper understanding of all sections of the specification format. Key topics were: new AWI Standards progress including how the new Performance Duty Levels work relating to the Wood Casework Standard, and updated information on the Quality Certification Program (QCP).

On Nov. 4 AWI CEO Doug Hague enthralled the attendees of the CSI South Central Region by ZOOM in his captivating presentation of the new ANSI/AWI 0642-2019—Architectural Wood Casework Standard. Attendees received continuing education credit for participating.

The AWI “Designing with Hardwood Veneer” seminar was taught by Margaret Fisher on Nov. 11 to the CSI Phoenix Chapter members, on Nov. 15 to the CSI Philadelphia Chapter first thing in the morning for their all-day Education Day, and on Nov. 17 to the CSI Mt. Rainier Chapter in Washington state.

More program deliveries are ahead.
  AWI will be sponsoring CSI Chapters as their program chairs choose from all of AWI’s great program offerings.As there are over 100 CSI Chapters with which AWI Members and Chapters can grow a relationship, there is something happening nearly every month in a CSI Chapter near you. 

For information on how you can add CSI interaction to your annual AWI Chapter or business marketing plans, contact Margaret Fisher at The CSI Chapters are interested in technical information that helps them write clearer, more relevant and up-to-date construction specifications. AWI offers educational programs for which they can earn continuing education credits and they benefit from tours and technical articles that explain how things are done. Find a CSI Chapter near you.

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Business Matters

Risk Management Corner: Don’t Let Your Guard Down Around Cold Weather

From Federated Insurance

Although extreme cold weather has traditionally been isolated to certain parts of the country during the winter months, with climate change we are seeing shifts in how long cold weather will linger, where it is hitting, and the impacts it can have for those who are not prepared.1

Until you have witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of a blizzard, ice storm, wind storm, and other cold weather events, you may not realize how destructive—and dangerous—they can be. Temperature fluctuations can cause soft, fluffy snow piles to become dense, sharp ice blocks. The weight of snow can cause damage to homes, vehicles, and power lines. Icy wind can obscure visibility, water can form black ice on roads, and sharp drops in temperature can cause frostbite to exposed skin in minutes. Prepare for the worst by creating an emergency preparedness and response plan. Even if you think you will never have to face certain cold weather safety conditions, having a plan could be your saving grace if there is an unexpected cold weather event.

Emergency Preparedness
Addressing unique challenges specific to each business’ facilities, operations, and potential risks through an emergency preparedness and response plan is a tried and true way to prepare. Train your employees on your plan, and keep a copy of the plan on-site to reference. Pay attention to the National Weather Service as they issue watches, warnings, and advisories across various media channels. Depending on what type of cold weather is predicted, be ready to advise your employees to stay home if driving conditions are too dangerous. Update your business hours online if you need to close early or open late.

Business Response
Is your business ready to handle a cold weather event? There are several things to keep in mind that may help to keep your workplace and employees safe:

  • If ice or heavy snow are predicted, keep the area well lit and have shovels and sidewalk salt on hand to help prevent slips, trips, or falls.
  • Power outages due to heavy wind, snow, or ice may leave you without electricity. Consider purchasing a backup generator and keeping an emergency kit at your business.
  • Keep a close eye on the temperature—if employees must be outside be sure they have regular warming breaks and provide the appropriate protective gear for the  weather.
  • Evaluate your company vehicles for winter weather readiness and make sure each one has a full tank of gas, an emergency kit, snow scrapers, and a spare shovel.

Employee Safety

Above all else, employee safety should a top priority. Your employees are your number one asset, and in unfamiliar weather situations they should know who to turn to for direction, and how to keep your business—and themselves—safe. It’s also a good idea to have your employees create a communications plan between their departure location and destination if they must drive. As seasonal changes bring lower temperatures each year, businesses should plan for the highest threat when it comes to weather events. Remember, it is better to be over-prepared than left out in the cold.

1.   Accessed 10/5/2021.

This article is for general information and risk prevention only and should not be considered an offer of insurance or legal, financial, tax or other expert advice. The recommendations herein may help reduce, but are not guaranteed to eliminate, any or all losses. The information herein may be subject to, and is not a substitute for, any laws or regulations that may apply.  This information is current as of its publication date and is subject to change. Some of the services referenced herein are provided by third parties wholly independent of Federated. Federated provides access to these services with the understanding that neither federated nor its employees provide legal or other expert advice. All products and services not available in all states. Qualified counsel should be sought with questions specific to your circumstances. All rights reserved.

© Federated Mutual Insurance Company.  All rights reserved.
Federated Mutual Insurance Company / Federated Service Insurance Company (not licensed in the states of NH, NJ and VT)  / Federated Life Insurance Company.  Owatonna, MN 55060 / Phone: 507-455-5200 / All products and services may not be available in all states.

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Remember Your Favorite Charities on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 30!

On Giving Tuesday, Nov. 30, businesses and individuals will be making contributions to their favorite charities and causes.  Don’t forget the AWI Education Foundation (AWIEF) which is dedicated to fostering continued growth of the architectural woodwork workforce of tomorrow.  In 2022, AWIEF will be awarding scholarships to worthy students and providing grants to selected educational programs/institutions.
For details about the mission and goals of the AWIEF and how to contribute, visit the foundation’s webpage at

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It’s Your Life: Will Your Life Insurance Policy Die Before You Do?

From Federated Insurance

Most business owners spend hours monitoring the important things in their life—things like employee payroll, inventory management, and equipment maintenance all get done because the consequences of ignoring them could be costly.  Unfortunately, what many people don’t realize is that their life insurance should be regularly reviewed and managed as well.

When was the last time you reviewed your life insurance program? Taking into account the differences between term insurance and permanent insurance, you should review policy basics including named beneficiaries, rider benefits, and billed premium amount. Changes in interest rates, premium payments, or policy loan balances over the years can impact the performance of a permanent policy and deserves attention. The reality is the average consumer may not understand how their life insurance policy works or how it’s performing over time.

Without regular review, it may be difficult to answer important questions about your policy. For example:

  • Are the beneficiary designations still correct?
  • On permanent policies, has the crediting interest rate changed?
  • Have you ever missed or changed the amount of a premium payment, not received a dividend, or taken a loan?
  • Most importantly, does the amount of coverage, purpose, and the projected duration still match your goals?

Without knowing the answers to these questions, it’s hard to know if your policy will be there when you need it for the reason you bought it. Your policy may be performing very differently today than what you expected based on illustrations you received when you purchased the policy. So, what’s the solution? Ask for an annual life insurance policy review. This is an opportunity to review your current coverage and needs. The goal is to identify any gaps in your insurance program and take any corrective action that may be needed.

To review your policies you need to gather up your policy, the last annual statement, and any in force projections you have and share it with your insurance advisor. They can provide the following to make sure your coverage still meets your objectives:

  • An analysis of your policy’s current and projected performance
  • An understanding of current riders and benefits
  • Potential coverage and premium options depending on performance

You already allocate significant resources towards your insurance plan—isn’t it worth a few minutes to make sure it’s meeting your needs and will continue to be there when you need it? To help avoid unexpected surprises, take these important steps to review your policies today.

This article is for general information and risk prevention only and should not be considered an offer of insurance or legal, financial, tax or other expert advice. The recommendations herein may help reduce, but are not guaranteed to eliminate, any or all losses. The information herein may be subject to, and is not a substitute for, any laws or regulations that may apply.  This information is current as of its publication date and is subject to change. Some of the services referenced herein are provided by third parties wholly independent of Federated. Federated provides access to these services with the understanding that neither federated nor its employees provide legal or other expert advice. All products and services not available in all states. Qualified counsel should be sought with questions specific to your circumstances. All rights reserved.

© Federated Mutual Insurance Company.  All rights reserved. Federated Mutual Insurance Company / Federated Service Insurance Company (not licensed in the states of NH, NJ and VT)  / Federated Life Insurance Company.  Owatonna, MN 55060 / Phone: 507-455-5200 /  All products and services may not be available in all states. 

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Economic Indicators

Demand for Design Services Continues to Increase

Architecture firms continued to report increasing demand for design services in September, according to a new report released Oct. 20 by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score for September was 56.6, which is up from August’s score of 55.6. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings from the prior month. During September, scoring for both the new project inquiries and design contracts moderated slightly, but remained in positive territory, posting scores of 61.8 and 54.7 respectively.  

“The ABI scores over the last eight months continue to be among the highest ever seen in the immediate post-recession periods that have been captured throughout the index’s history,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “However, it’s unlikely that revenue increases at architecture firms can sustain this pace. Given that growth in both new design contracts and project inquiries have moderated in recent months, we expect to see a similar path for the ABI.”

Key ABI highlights for September include:

  • Regional averages: Midwest (57.7); South (57.0); West (56.0); Northeast (51.5)
  • Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (58.8); commercial/industrial (58.1); multi-family residential (56.1); institutional (53.5)

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Dodge Momentum Index Jumps in October to Highest Level in Nearly 14 Years

The Dodge Momentum Index increased 10% in October to 181.2 (2000=100), from the revised September reading of 164.6. The Momentum Index, issued by Dodge Construction Network, is a monthly measure of the initial report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. In October, commercial planning rose 14% and institutional gained 3%.

The value of nonresidential building projects entering planning has staged a solid recovery this fall. It has lifted the Momentum Index to its highest level in nearly 14 years, following a near-moribund summer of activity. The commercial sector has shown strength, having reached its highest level since the inception of the Index. The October gain in the Momentum Index was driven by increased planning in warehouses, offices, and healthcare structures. Compared to a year earlier, the Momentum Index was 47% higher in October 2021. The commercial planning component was 59% higher, and institutional was 26% higher.

A total of 20 projects with a value of $100 million or more entered planning in October. The dollar value of projects in the planning stage is impressive and portends a healthy rise in nonresidential building construction starts on tap for 2022. However, that expectation must be balanced against rising material costs, shortages of key goods, and a lack of skilled labor that will work to keep growth rates modest next year.

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State Construction Unemployment Rates Down in 49 States from a Year Ago

The not seasonally adjusted national construction unemployment rate dropped 2.6% in September 2021 from a year ago while 49 states had lower unemployment rates over the same period, according to state-by-state analysis of US Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Nov. 3 by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). Only one state, Alaska, had a higher estimated rate than it did in September 2020.

While not fully recovered to its pre-pandemic level, national NSA construction employment was up 209,000 from September 2020. Seasonally adjusted construction employment remained at 201,000, or 2.6% below its February 2020 peak, before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect the employment numbers. This was better than national, seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment, which was 3.3% below its February 2020 peak as of September.

The national NSA construction unemployment rate increased from 3.2% in September 2019 to 4.5% in September 2021. Over that same period, 22 states had lower construction unemployment rates, two states—Arkansas and West Virginia—were unchanged and 26 states had higher rates.

To better understand the basis for calculating unemployment rates and what they measure, check out the Background on State Construction Unemployment Rates.

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Nonresidential Construction Spending Contracts 0.6% in September, Says ABC

National nonresidential construction spending contracted 0.6% in September, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) analysis of data published Nov. 1 by the US Census Bureau. On a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, nonresidential spending totaled $791.2 billion for the month.

Spending was down in 11 of the 16 nonresidential subcategories, with spending in amusement and recreation unchanged for the month. Both private and public nonresidential spending declined 0.6% in September.

“It is not surprising that nonresidential construction spending declined in September,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Nonresidential construction spending has generally been trending lower for several months and the factors behind this are well known. First, the pandemic has continued, resulting in ongoing global supply chain disarray. That has kept commodity and materials prices higher than they otherwise would be, causing some project owners to pull back on construction starts. Indeed, ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator has signaled a loss of momentum in nonresidential construction spending.

“To the extent that projects are moving forward, construction skills shortages are slowing the pace of construction delivery,” said Basu.

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Construction Firms Add 44,000 Jobs in October Even as They Struggle with Supply Chain & Other Challenges

The construction industry added 44,000 jobs between September and October as nonresidential construction firms posted back-to-back increases for the first time since January, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) of government data released Nov. 4. AGC officials said the employment gains were welcome news but cautioned that employment levels remain well-below pre-pandemic totals as firms struggle with supply chain problems, labor shortages and federal inaction on infrastructure funding [subsequently passed].

“It is encouraging to see continuing job growth in nonresidential construction but the industry remains far behind the overall economy in recovering all of the job losses from the pandemic,” said Ken Simonson, the AGC’s chief economist. “Finding workers is a challenge after other sectors have been hiring for much longer.”

Construction employment in October totaled 7,498,000, an increase of 44,000 since September. However, industry employment remained 150,000 below the pre-pandemic peak set in February 2020.

The nonresidential segment, comprising nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors plus heavy and civil engineering construction firms, added 33,000 employees in October, following a pickup of 25,800 in September. But nonresidential employment is 239,000 below the February 2020 level, as the sector has recovered only 63% of the jobs lost in the first two months of the pandemic.

Residential construction—including building contractors such as homebuilders, along with residential specialty trades—added 10,900 employees in October. Residential employment tops the February 2020 mark by 89,000. Simonson noted that the overall economy has regained 87% of the jobs lost between February and April 2020, an indication that many construction workers may have found jobs in homebuilding and remodeling or in other sectors.             

View the construction employment chart and table.

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Students Learn at Lamello Lab at Madison College

The AWI Wisconsin Chapter and Colonial Saw co-sponsored a hands-on seminar on Lamello fasteners at Madison College recently. Product expert Dan Dempsey began with a classroom session detailing the history of Lamello, from the invention of the biscuit joiner to their highly acclaimed P-System connectors. Dan provided examples of how this innovative system can be used to simplify both finishing and installation challenges.

After the classroom portion, students had the opportunity to try out the fastening system during a hands-on lab. Dan designed an angular cabinet to showcase a multitude of fastening options. Following a lunch sponsored by the AWI Wisconsin Chapter, he repeated the seminar for a group of industry members.

Madison College hosts 2-3 seminars annually which are open to the public. The next seminar will be held on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. To receive notification of future events, you can subscribe to the Wood Moves, an e-newsletter from the Cabinetmaking & Millwork program, by sending an email to Patrick Molzahn at

To view more photos of the Learning Lab and students at work, click here.

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Questions to Ask Yourself When Conducting Employee Performance Evaluations

An article in Training (free subscription) dives into employee performance evaluations.  It lists seven questions you might ask yourself to conduct a more productive evaluation.  Learn more here.

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AWI e-briefs

Upcoming Editions

Watch for e-briefs on:

  • Dec. 9—News Edition of AWI & Affiliated Organizations (Chapters, WCA, QCP, Speakers Bureau, AWIEF)...Last edition of e-briefs in 2021.

Depend on e-briefs to bring you news of AWI publications and programs and other pertinent information that impacts your architectural woodwork business.

For prior issues of AWI e-briefs, click here.

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