Tom Hallissey No Comments

New York Paid Family Leave Act: What Employers need to Know

As of the first of the year, private employers in New York State are required to grant employees paid time off under certain circumstances. New York’s Paid Family Leave Act, which comes at no financial cost to employers, allows workers to take time off to care for loved ones without losing their job. Read more

Contractors Insurance No Comments

10 Winter Weather Safety Tips for NY Contractors

Winter is about to get a whole lot chillier over the next week. Cold, arctic air from the northern-most regions of Canada and Alaska is about to swoop down and turn the five boroughs into a winter wonderland. While that might be a great opportunity for you to take the kids out sledding or a snowball fight, it can make working outside downright dangerous. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive list of winter weather safety tips that should make the next couple months a lot less troublesome.

OSHA’s Top 10 Winter Weather Safety Tips for NY Contractors

OSHA or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has made it a priority to make sure that contractors who are working during the winter months are prepared for what the cold has in store. A few years ago they published a cold stress card which, we still feel is one of the best points of reference for those contractors who decide to operate during the winter. Here are their top 10 winter weather safety tips for NY contractors.

1. Recognize

Take note of the environment. If it looks too dangerous, re-evaluate and plan accordingly.

2. Learn

Understand the signs of cold-induced illnesses and injuries (such as hypothermia). It will save you and your employees during a time of emergency.

3. Train

Train your employees on how to identify cold-induced injuries and illnesses because they will need to know how to react if you’re not around.

4. Encourage

Encourage employees to wear proper winter clothing if they are planning on working in frigid conditions.

5. Take Breaks

Sometimes the slower party wins the race. Short, frequent, sheltered breaks will help your employees stay warm. They’ll also be more physically and mentally acute.

6. Schedule

Try to work during the warmest part of the day in order to avoid costly setbacks and injuries.

7. Avoid

Avoid exhaustion which can occur easily when energy is expelled to keep muscles warm. The warmer your employees are the more productive they’ll be.

8. Use the Buddy System

Accidents happen, but with the buddy system your employees will be able to identify danger signs much more easily.

9. Eat Warm, Drink Warm

Warm, high calorie foods (like pasta) and warm, sweet, de-caffeinated beverages are excellent at keeping the body at a desirable temperature in frigid conditions.

10. Remember

Their may be an increased risk of injury if employees are taking certain medications, are ill or are unfit for work. So, make remember who is best suited for you.

We hope our top 10 winter weather safety tips for NY contractors will keep you and your employees safe over the next couple months. If you have any further questions please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-649-9094. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Hurricane Sandy debris removal scams have feds worried

When people think about the impact of a superstorm or a hurricane they typically think about the damage inflicted upon people’s homes as well as their communities. They think about rebuilding and creating a new hope. What they don’t consider is all of the rubble (left behind by the storm) that must be cleared away before contractors can even think about setting foundations and paving new roads. It’s not a particularly fun job but it’s a necessary one if the community is ever to regain some semblance of normalcy.

After major tragedies there are plenty of stories of contractors doing the right thing (and sometimes going above and beyond that) to help those in need yet (like every profession), there are those who will abuse their position in order to gain either political leverage or some form of illicit cash flow. That’s exactly what happened in Belmar, New Jersey as federal auditors have recently questioned over $500,000 in Hurricane Sandy debris removal costs, which apparently stem from a suspicious relationship between two firms and a local politician.

Matthew Doherty, the mayor of Belmar, has recently come under increased scrutiny from the federal government. Auditors from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General found that both J.H. Reid of South Plainfield and Ferreira Construction of Branchburg (who both have relations to Mr. Doherty’s wife) accounted for over half of the town’s debris removal costs (roughly $1.6 million dollars in all).

Doherty claims that the costs were substantially higher than they should have been as they were awarded on an emergency basis. Though the costs may have been higher it is not immediately apparent why the federal government has become involved. But, look a little closer at the report and it becomes much clearer. The town of Belmar wants the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to cover $285,000 in markups. A price Inspector General has refused to accept on the condition that the firms used a cost-plus-percentage-of-cost method of billing which does not adhere to federal regulations.

Using that method of billing and the relationship to Mr. Doherty’s wife both firms were able to charge a sum that was substantially higher than the norm. With superstorms and hurricanes frequenting the East coast more often towns and local governments should take care to come up with a reasonable plan of action for debris removal that will increase the incentive for contractors to control costs and hopefully result in a much smoother phase of redevelopment. With debris still littered across the tri-state area keep your eyes open for those who may be misusing their power when it comes to clean-up. We would much rather have good contractors such as yourself rebuilding neighborhoods instead of those who may do more harm than good. Happy building!