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SAFETY
What impact does a company's size and leadership style have on safety?

By Joshua Estrin

While the construction industry is comprised of companies of all sizes, big companies often have large marketing budgets allowing for maximum industry exposure. Yet, while small construction firms (between one to 50 employees) comprise a large portion of the industry, little is heard from them. This begs the question: does the size of a company impact job site safety?

Before this question can be answered, one must also recognize that the leadership styles of those charged with worker safety are an integral part of understanding the obstacles that continue to face the industry. There are three general leadership styles that have been recognized across the continuum of all areas of occupational safety and health but have rarely been clearly articulated by the construction industry: autocratic, participatory and free rein.

OP RESIDENTIALBy Brenna Hill and Michael Harvey 

In June, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a dramatic departure from its informal guidelines on classification of independent contractors and joint employers. These guidelines, issued during the Obama administration, were not legally binding, but served as a blueprint for how the DOL enforced federal laws. They also presented persuasive authority to courts. 

Although the Trump administration has not yet issued new guidelines, the DOL’s departure from the previous guidelines indicates that it may be easier for employers to classify individuals as independent contractors and that it will be more difficult to hold one business liable for the employment law violations of another company. 

OP INSITUTIONALBy Matt Worth

Schools, libraries and museums house the best and brightest of our society. However, the buildings that contain these institutions could afford to be quite a bit smarter.

The commercial building infrastructure in America is aging, with as many as 72 percent of U.S. buildings being more than 20 years old. Although the idea of "smart buildings" is gaining traction, out-of-date HVAC and building controls equipment are still the norm. Now is the time for an HVAC/controls retrofit.

OP COMMERCIAL

By Guy Worley

Designing the perfect workspace isn’t just a matter of efficiency and ergonomics; it’s a moving target that changes with generational shifts in the workforce. Each successive generation brings a unique set of needs and preferences that have been shaped by culture and their experiences. In turn, those needs and preferences shape the definition of an optimized office.

Last year, the millennial generation officially bypassed baby boomers to take the lead as the largest population group in the United States. The shifting demographic balance of working-age individuals toward millennials brings progressive changes in office space. Case in point: more than 70 percent of U.S. workspaces are moving to an open layout.

Office space has and always will play a vital role in talent attraction. As the millennial generation begins to dominate the workforce, needs and expectations for office environments are shifting rapidly. Closed-off offices and cubicles have now been replaced with open office concepts and communal workspaces, and millennials are driving this change.

OP CIVIL

By Montserrat Miller

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is ramping up immigration enforcement nationwide, which will soon include increased worksite enforcement. This means American businesses must adapt to new operating conditions. As with any new norm, smart leaders must know how the federal government’s actions will affect their workforce, and ultimately, their bottom line.

Over the years worksite enforcement has taken different forms. What remains to be seen is whether the Trump administration will define enforcement like President Bush, with large worksite raids; or like the Obama administration, which engaged mostly in “paper investigations” when it came to worksite enforcement.

BUILDING METHODSUsing prefab methods in high-tourist areas can yield results. 

By Scott Acton

Prefabrication in construction is nothing new, but there are leaders in the industry who still struggle with accepting and implementing new trends. Recent studies have shown only 40 percent of contractors consider prefab a part of their company’s strategic initiative despite building information modeling (BIM) making prefab techniques easier and providing higher quality results. Though quality control in prefab has historically been a concern, advances in technology and improved methods have alleviated these concerns and perfected these techniques across the board. Consequently, as contractors struggle to find methods of decreasing project timelines, budgets and disruptions to local economies, prefab will continue to prove a cohesive and effective solution.

STEWART CARROL DRONEDrones enhance construction workflow.  

By Stewart Carroll 

As many parents have learned in the last couple of years, the fastest way to a tween’s heart is to give him the freedom of flight, packaged in a cardboard box from Amazon. Cheap, mass-produced drones are always a welcome kid gift, but the higher-tech versions of this burgeoning technology are much more than just a “hot toy.” Advanced drones have given countless industries – from gaming to moviemaking to real estate – a fresh perspective on the world. And for the construction industry, the possibilities are as limitless as a clear blue sky.

MIXED USED DEVELOPMENTThe legality of mixed-use projects continues to evolve.   

By Paul N. Dubrasich, Esq.

Mixed-use developments are certainly not newcomers these days. For two decades or more, projects that combine two, three or more product types and uses have become commonplace. Even so, the demand for mixed-use developments continues to grow. Evolving demographics, lifestyle preferences and governmental regulations all encourage a trend toward urban infill and transit-oriented communities that combine residential amenities with retail or commercial components. 

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