The COVID-19 pandemic is causing widespread challenges in the construction industry. Employee safety concerns, forced project shutdowns, construction delays, and supplier interruptions are mounting. Contractors must carefully navigate these unprecedented times by knowing their contractual duties, regulatory obligations, and mechanic’s lien rights.
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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new guidance letter that indicates it may be legal, but not generally advisable, for workers to use headphones to listen to music on a construction sites. OSHA acknowledged that there is there is no specific OSHA regulation that prohibits the use of headphones on a construction site.
On December 20, 2020, President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that included the federal Fair Chance Act (“the Act”). The Act prohibits, with certain exceptions, federal contractors that have openings for positions within the scope of federal contracts from inquiring about or seeking criminal history information from an applicant until after a conditional job offer has been extended. The Act is intended to give ex-offenders released from prison and those with past criminal convictions a better opportunity at obtaining employment by eliminating or at least deferring any pre-employment inquiry into an applicant’s criminal history. After the conditional job offer has been extended employers should continue to be mindful of complying with local, state, and federal discrimination and privacy laws.
In Ryan v. City of Chicago, 2019 IL APP (1st) 181777, a home builder mistakenly constructed a home within the two-foot setback adopted in the City of Chicago. Even though the new homeowners applied for and obtained a 2.5 inch setback variance from the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals for the setback encroachment, the adjoining property owner filed a lawsuit against the City seeking an order to require the home to be moved out of the setback.
The construction industry is a leading target of cyber crime. According to cybersecurity firms, one in every 382 e-mails in the construction industry contains malicious content, and nearly forty percent of construction industry employees are considered susceptible to cyber scams. Given that cyber crime will only get more sophisticated and difficult to detect, failing to implement a cybersecurity plan is a serious gamble. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 60% of small businesses survive less than six months following a data breach. However, contractors can improve those odds by increasing security measures, training employees, and purchasing cyber insurance policies. Furthermore, contractors without cybersecurity plans may fall behind competitors and fail to qualify for certain jobs, especially government projects.