OSHA’s “Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards”

Every year, OSHA releases its list of the “Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards” as a way to make employers aware of the standards most cited for violations. The idea is that employers will use the list to identify and fix any hazards that would result in a violation of OSHA’s standards and in turn reduce the number of citations and prevent possible injuries. The idea behind the list is good, but the problem is that it lumps all citations from all industries together in order to come up with the top 10. This means that employers in a given industry that doesn’t have employees working at height might not find it very useful that the most cited standard in 2013 was duty to have fall protection. – Read more at: http://constructiondatacompany.com/oshas-top-10-cited-violations-construction-industry/

FFCM Complaint Prompts Contractor Replacement

The Building Committee for the new high school in Greenfield has voted to drop its original contractor for the $65 million job and begin negotiations with the No. 2 bidder after the FFCM filed a bid protest with the Attorney General’s office. FFCM monitors who scrutinized the application submitted by DEW/MacMillin determined that the application was incomplete and notified the Attorney General’s office. The Building Committee accepted the recommendation of the construction manager selection committee, which opted  to withdraw its support for DEW/MacMillin Co. of New Hampshire in favor of Shawmut Design and Construction, a Boston company.

Legal Landmark: Leases Subject to Competitive Bidding Law

The Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that an agreement between UMass Lowell and a private developer, Brasi Development, for the development, maintenance and long-term lease of a dormitory constituted a contract for public construction subject to the requirements of the competitive bidding law.

In Brasi Development Corp. v. Attorney General & another, the SJC reversed a Superior Court finding that the agreement was a lease and not subject to the competitive bidding law. The Attorney General’s office had earlier reached a contrary decision following a bid protest by the Foundation for Fair Contracting of Massachusetts and the lowest bidder. Considering all the provisions of the lease agreement and RFP, the Court held that the competitive bidding statue, G. L. c 149 §§ 44A-44H, applies to UMass Lowell’s agreement with Brasi to develop and maintain a student dormitory near its campus.

Awarding Authorities Play Key Role in Prevailing Wage Compliance

The Foundation for Fair Contracting of Massachusetts announces a new Public Construction Watch column designed to recognize Massachusetts municipal and state awarding authorities who demonstrate accountability for compliance with public construction laws.

Awarding authorities must receive, maintain and review certified payroll records to ensure prevailing wage compliance. Section 28 of the same law provides construction workers with “right of action” against a city or town for debt recovery.
Awarding Authorities can also prevent prevailing wage violations by challenging bids that are significantly below the average bid price. An irresponsibly low bid can trigger a preliminary hearing where the contractor must demonstrate how it will complete the project and comply with state laws. Based on findings of fact, an awarding authority may reject a low bid as long as the determination is not made in an arbitrary, capricious or illegal manner. The process could easily prevent delayed or unfinished projects and save hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

FFCM assists awarding authorities to identify and correct violations of the law before involving state enforcement agencies and resources. Our staff targets public projects throughout the Commonwealth, monitors bidding, collects and reviews certified payroll records, mails to workers and tracks cases to resolution. Potential bid irregularities or certain types of wage and certified payroll record violations are reported directly to the responsible town, city or state awarding authority for corrective action. Since 2010, FFCM has transmitted over 200 cases of alleged violations.

The Foundation works closely with responsive authorities to ensure that contractors paid with public tax dollars are accountable for compliance. Awarding authorities have required contractors to pay their workers restitution for missed “step” increases, submit certified payroll records weekly, resubmit non-compliant records with requisite complete and accurate information, or make other adjustments. This kind of enforcement by awarding authorities sends a clear message to all stakeholders that cheating workers, shortchanging taxpayers and undercutting law abiding contractors will not be tolerated.

The Foundation salutes the following Awarding Authorities for their cooperation and commitment to compliance and fair contracting:

Spring Issue of Public Construction Watch Now Available

The Foundation for Fair Contracting of Massachusetts is pleased to publish the first issue of Public Construction Watch, our new semiannual newsletter.  Public Construction Watch replaces two former FFCM  publications—The Fair Contractor and The Wage Watch—both suspended in 2010 in the wake of the Massachusetts construction industry’s hard hitting downturn .

Our new publication provides updates on FFCM activity and contains stories of interest to workers, contractors, unions and awarding authorities. You’ll find information on the latest developments in bidding, prevailing wage compliance and apprenticeship and learn how new legislation and case decisions could impact you. Reports on successful wage complaints and contractors cited by the Attorney General will also be featured.

This first issue is devoted to significant news developments since the downturn.