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The Construction Advantage

5th Annual Women in Construction and Project Development

By Asha Echeverria

In April, Bernstein Shur hosted over 175 women in the project development and construction industries  for a networking event and panel discussion. Begun by Construction shareholders Asha Echeverria and Meredith Eilers, this annual event creates a rare opportunity for women in the construction and project development industries in Maine to network, discuss current significant issues, challenges and opportunities in their industry, build community, and share experience and knowledge about the industry.

Five industry professionals gave PechaKucha 20 x 15 style presentations on a topic they were excited to share:

  • Maggie Stanley (Construction Administrator, CWS Architects)
    Building Confidence
  • Sara Mlynarchek (Assistant General Counsel, University of Maine System) and Rachel Piper (Director of Strategic Sourcing, University of Maine System)
    The Basics of P3 – Public Private Partnerships
  • Sarah Witte (Landscape Architect, Sarah Witte Landscape Architect)
    The Little Train Station that Could
  • Amy Floren (Senior Structural Engineer, Louis Berger)
    Bridges To Prosperity

These presentations covered topics from preserving a historical train station to building bridges in developing countries and were followed by a lively panel discussion and audience Q&A session. The discussion proved enlightening and engaging amongst a diverse group of professionals.

We were thrilled to celebrate the 5th anniversary of this event and planning for our 6th Annual event for spring 2020 is well underway! Contact Asha Echeverria or Meredith Eilers if you or someone you know would like to be added to the invitation list for next year.

Changes in OSHA to Affect Jobsite Inspections

By Hilary Holmes Rheaume

According to a recent statement from U.S. Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, we expect jobsite inspections to increase over the next few years. Earlier this month, Acosta issued a written statement to announce that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently hired 76 new inspectors who will be ready to conduct field inspections on their own within one to three years.

OSHA’s recent trend to increase its number of compliance officers also made its way into President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request. President Trump requested $557 million to pay for additional OSHA staff, including 30 additional compliance officers and five more whistleblower investigators, during Fiscal Year 2020.

OSHA’s decision to increase its number of inspectors and compliance officers means that the number of jobsite inspections will likely continue to rise each year. OSHA has already increased its number of jobsite inspections over the past few years. In 2016, OSHA completed 31,948 inspections. In 2017 and 2018, the number of jobsite inspections increased to over 32,000 inspections each year. Due to OSHA’s recent initiative to expand its workforce, we anticipate that the number of jobsite inspections will continue to grow.

OSHA also increased its maximum penalty amounts, which became effective on January 23, 2019. For serious, other-than-serious, and posting requirement violations, the maximum penalty amount is $13,260 per violation. A failure to abate violation is now $13,260 per day beyond the abatement date. The maximum penalty amount for a willful or repeated violation is $132,598 per violation.

Overall, OSHA continues to send the message that it is increasing its efforts to monitor jobsite safety and compliance.