Construction Outlook May 2024

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Executive Director

5 President’s Message:


UCANE Leadership Focused on Supporting Expanded Funding for Underground Utility, Water, and Wastewater Programs Across the Commonwealth

7 Legislative Update:

• House Passes FY24 Budget; Far Less Budget Reductions Than Anticipated

• UCANE Weighs in on Housing Bond Bill

• Grants Awarded to Help Communities Meet Sewage Notification Requirements

• Federal Government Sets Lower PFAS Standard; Massachusetts Municipalities May Have to Scramble to Comply

• News in Brief

21 UCANE Interview:

A n Interview with Representative Dan Cahill, (10th Essex)

25 Legal Corner:

Newly Proposed Federal Highway Rule: Buy America

29 In Memoriam: Dominic Frangioso, D. F. Frangioso & Co., Inc.

31 Public Works Pipeline: An Interview with Dennis Morton, Director of Public Works, Plainville, MA

35 Deadline Approaches for EPA’s Revised Lead and Copper Rule

37 UCANE Welcomes New Members

38 Contractor Member of the Month: Baltazar Contractors, Inc.

45 Construction Safety & Compliance:

A n Interview with Katelyn Palladino, Loss Control Specialist, DeSanctis Insurance Agency, Inc. (An Acrisure Partner)

52 2024 Value of Water Index

55 OSHA National News Release: US Department of Labor Issues Final Rule to Clarify Rights to Employee Representation During OSHA Inspections

57 MWRA Studies Expanding Water Service to Towns Around Quabbin Reservoir

61 Save the Date: UCANE’s 45th Annual Golf Tournament

63 Safety & Health Corner: Heat Exposure in Construction: Protecting Workers from Summer’s Wrath

66 Remember When...

69 Insurance Perspective:

Building Security: The Basics of EPLI Coverage for Construction Companies

71 What You Think vs. What You Know: A Case for Fact-Based Strategic Planning

Editors: Joseph F. Nolan & Anne Klayman, Associate Editor: Suzanne Hatch

Magazine Designer/Associate Editor: Sherri Klayman, Head Writer/Assistant Editor: Mike Lenihan

Construction Outlook Chair: Brian Cooney

Editorial Board: Brian Cooney, Chris Valenti, Querino Pacella, & Dan Horgan MAY,

CONSTRUCTION OUTLOOK published monthly by the Utility Contractors’ Association of New England, Inc., 300 Congress Street, Suite 101, Quincy, MA 02169; Tel: 617.471.9955; Fax: 617.471.8939; Email:; Website: Statements of fact and opinion are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of UCANE and the Construction Outlook editorial board and staff. Subscriptions are included in dues payments for UCANE members. Presorted Standard postage paid at Brockton, MA. POSTMASTER, please send form #3579 to Construction Outlook, Crown Colony Office Park, 300 Congress Street, Suite 101, Quincy, MA 02169.

UCANE Leadership Focused on Supporting Expanded Funding for Underground Utility, Water, and Wastewater Programs Across the Commonwealth

As we are now well into the month of May, I would like to offer an update on UCANE's collective endeavors and priorities. Our focus remains steadfast on advocating for increased funding for critical infrastructure, encompassing drinking water, wastewater, and underground utilities.

Over recent years, UCANE, alongside peer organizations across New England and the United States, has diligently worked to expand funding for water infrastructure projects and programs. Thanks to initiatives like the Cares Act and the ARRA Infrastructure Bill, support for clean water infrastructure has reached unprecedented levels.

Locally, Director Nolan and the UCANE team have forged strong partnerships with Agency Heads and local leaders on Beacon Hill to sustain funding for our initiatives, especially with the anticipated conclusion of the Cares Act and ARRA funding in the years ahead.

Two prominent drivers currently shape water interests in the Commonwealth. First, the ongoing debate surrounding housing growth necessitates significant investment in water and wastewater infrastructure to accommodate increased density, as mandated by recent zoning regulations near MBTA service areas. UCANE continues to highlight the connections between much needed housing and water infrastructure in the Commonwealth.

Secondly, Massachusetts, alongside other New England municipalities, faces challenges associated with unsafe PFAS levels, demanding investments in treatment facilities and new connections to secure water sources. The PFAS issue is of critical concern nationwide and requires immediate attention. As we

meet with our regions' leaders it is critical that we make clear that additional funding is needed to support the resolution of PFAS efforts throughout New England.

As these issues influence the allocation of water infrastructure funds at local and federal levels, UCANE leaders and members remain steadfast in ensuring every available dollar is directed towards projects and programs that guarantee clean water infrastructure for future generations.

This month, UCANE will unite with peers from the Massachusetts construction industry in Washington DC for Infrastructure Week, coordinating national efforts as members of the Clean Water Construction Coalition to advocate for ongoing funding for our water programs and projects.

Together, we can optimize investments, hastening vital infrastructure enhancements for our region. Investing in water infrastructure is not merely about addressing today's needs; it is about laying the groundwork for future economic growth. These investments safeguard public health, foster job creation, and ensure a sustainable future.

Let us remain resolute in our commitment to advocating for water infrastructure funding, building resilient communities, and guaranteeing clean water access for all. Your unwavering support in our shared mission is deeply appreciated. n


House Passes FY24 Budget; Far Less Budget Reductions Than Anticipated

The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed its fiscal year 2025 (FY25) budget proposal towards the end of April. According to a report by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF), the House budget proposal included $58.07 billion after adding $95.8 million in spending over the course of three days of debate. The FY25 House budget proposal is $2 billion (3.6 percent) more than the FY24 and $62 million (0.1 percent) less than Governor Maura Healey’s proposal. The House of Representatives, like Governor Healey, relies on $1.19 billion in one-time resources and new ongoing revenue-generating initiatives (i.e., > $1 million income tax surcharge).

As reported by the MTF, “through the adoption of seven consolidated amendments, the House added $95.8 million in new spending on the floor. This figure is $33.9 million less than the amount of spending added during House debate in FY24, which totaled $129.7 million; and $12.6 million less than the three-year average for House debate spending of $108.5 million. Approximately 84 percent ($80.3 million) of new spending is attributable to earmarks for specific communities, organizations, or projects; while 16 percent ($15.5 million) is related to programmatic increases or new lineitems. Over the course of House debate, 90 new outside section policy sections were added and 18 sections were changed through the adoption of 28 amendments. This is a notable increase in four newly added sections from the 45 policy sections added to the budget in FY24, and the most added since FY17 (91 sections).”

For UCANE’s purposes, the House FY25 budget included level funding for the Clean Water Trust’s

contract assistance line-item at $63.3 million. As well, the Commonwealth’s Sewer Rate Relief Fund was funded at $1.5 million while the underground storage program was funded at $8.49 million with an additional $1.8 million for the administration of the same. Finally, the House budget proposal increased funding for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to slightly over $54 million.

Among other areas of note, the House FY25 budget proposal includes:

• An investment of $555 million for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), as well as $184 million for the Regional Transit Authorities that serve commuters across Massachusetts.

• $45 million to sustain FY24 rate increases and provides an additional $20 million in FY25 rate increases for child care providers across the Commonwealth.

• $784 million for the University of Massachusetts system, $404 million for community colleges, and $395 million for state universities.

• $20.8 billion for MassHealth, representing the largest investment in the budget.

The Massachusetts Senate will consider its budget proposal in May. Subsequently, the House and Senate will appoint a Conference Committee to reach an agreement on the budget sent to the Governor before July 1, which is the start of the fiscal year 2025 budget year. For more information on the H ouse FY25 budget proposal, please visit: Budget/HouseBudget.

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UCANE Weighs in on Housing Bond Bill

As the Massachusetts legislature continues its march to the final formal sessions on July 31 of this year, there remains a number of highly anticipated items on the agenda. Of particular note, the Massachusetts legislature is expected to take up Governor Healey’s $4.2 billion housing bond bill (House Bill 4138) – a measure that is expected to be the foundation for future sustainable housing growth. In an effort to ensure that the infrastructure exists to support the growth of housing, UCANE has continued to reach out to House and Senate leadership about the importance of investing in water infrastructure.

To the aforementioned point, UCANE recently sent a letter to House Ways and Means Chair, Representative Aaron Michlewitz, requesting that the Massachusetts House of Representatives support certain components of water infrastructure in this important legislation. In particular, UCANE wrote:

“As widely reported, the Commonwealth is in the midst of a significant housing crisis. Whether from a lack of affordable housing, a lack of housing located near transit options or simply the unavailability of housing in general, the need for housing options has never been greater as we face the sig-

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nificant “outmigration” of today’s and tomorrow’s workforce. At the same time, there is significant concern among many municipalities that they do not have the water infrastructure to support the growth of housing. (See “What lies beneath towns may be the downfall of the MBTA communities law,” Sarah Betancourt, WGBH, March 7, 2024.) (“But many municipalities, mostly small or medium-sized communities outside of Boston, tell WGBH News, their concern is more mundane than political: What to do with the sewage?”) In short, the construction of new housing, practically speaking, relies on the Commonwealth’s continued investment in water infrastructure.

In light of its connection with housing, UCANE encourages you to support both the short- and longterm investment of water infrastructure. HB4138’s proposal to fund the HousingWorks program with $175 million is an excellent initiative that provides key funding for linking infrastructure with housing. Further, the idea of utilizing the MWRA’s expertise and capacity to further assist municipalities with their water infrastructure needs should be pur-

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Legislative Update continued from page 7
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sued. To its credit, the MWRA has been an exceptional leader in planning and executing water infrastructure improvements throughout its membership areas. Finally, while the influx of funding from the America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) will help us meet short-term water infrastructure needs, we continue to need a long-term funding solution. The State Revolving Fund (SRF) program, which is a well-run, dynamic tool, could be further leveraged with a long-term funding mechanism that provides the Clean Water Trust (or municipalities, directly) with ongoing, dedicated funding resources. (Note: House Bill 803, An Act Relative to Funding Water Infrastructure and Addressing Economic Target Areas, is an example of a potential long-term funding mechanism.)”

One of the most common areas of concern for Massachusetts residents and businesses remains the availability and affordability of housing. As the Massachusetts legislature tackles this complex issue, expect to see a wide variety of organizations push for continued investment in the Commonwealth’s underground infrastructure. To review Governor Healey’s housing proposal, please visit: https://malegislature. gov/Bills/193/H4138.

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Grants Awarded to Help Communities Meet Sewage Notification Requirements

According to a press release issued by the Healey-Driscoll Administration, $575,546 in grants have been awarded to 12 regional or municipal wastewater utilities or systems across Massachusetts. The grants will help local communities meet new requirements to notify the public of sewage discharges and overflows into the surface waters of the Commonwealth. The projects, selected by the MassDEP, were awarded to the Town of Billerica, the Town of Buckland, the Cherry Valley Sewer District, the City of Fitchburg Wastewater Division, the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District, the City of Haverhill, the City of Holyoke, the City of Lowell, the Town of Marblehead, the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission, the City of Worcester, and Upper Blackstone Clean Water.

The funding awarded will enable regional or municipal wastewater utilities or systems in Massachusetts to expand their efforts to meet the sewage notification regulation requirements to notify the public of sewage discharges and overflows to protect and preserve public health. There are more than 240

Massachusetts municipalities subject to the current regulations that took effect on July 6, 2022.

Regulatory requirements that wastewater treatment plants and communities must meet include notifying the public of sewage discharge and overflow events, posting signage at public access points, and making relevant information available online.

Among the specific projects being undertaken with this funding include, but are not limited to:

• Town of Billerica – $29,489: The Town will use the funds to purchase and install monitoring equipment to monitor systems to identify Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) in its five largest force-mains. The installation of monitoring equipment will significantly reduce the time for a SSO to be discovered, allowing for quicker public notifications.

• Town of Buckland – $28,000: This project will help the Town purchase and install a new chart reader to increase reliability of wastewater flow measurement and for purchase and installation

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Legislative Update continued from page 13

of a closed-circuit TV system, software, and alarm panel to alert staff of potential high flow activity.

• Cherry Valley Sewer District, Leicester –$50,625: Cherry Valley Sewer District will utilize the funds to update sewer notification system web interfaces, and to purchase and install monitoring equipment at pump stations for use in identification and measurement of Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) events.

• City of Fitchburg Wastewater Division –$117,548: The City will use the funds to upgrade existing meters for Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) optimization, including replacement batteries, antennas, and redundant meters. The city also needs financial assistance for CSO notification upgrades to automate monthly summary reports that are displayed on the city’s CSO notification webpage, and for purchase and installation of an electronic message board for notifications in higher trafficked areas.

• Greater Lawrence Sanitary District (GLSD) – $58,548: Greater Lawrence Sanitary District (GLSD) will use the funds for work completed to install three new pressure and level sensors within the main sewer interceptor lines that will

provide a more accurate reading of water levels pertaining to Combined Sewer Overflows.

• City of Lowell – $88,140: The City will utilize the funds to purchase and install monitoring equipment to help identify potential Sanitary Sewer Overflows, upgrade industrial device services to assist in the implementation of the Combined Sewer Overflow Notification Plan, and upgrade the city’s notification system.

• Springfield Water and Sewer Commission –$17,775: The Springfield Water and Sewer Commission will utilize the funds for installation and monitoring of closed-circuit TV cameras at three locations to verify alarm conditions within the sewer system related to the Combined Sewer Overflow public notification program.

• City of Worcester – $78,300: The City will utilize the funds to purchase and install flow monitoring equipment to identify potential Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) and to update the city’s CSO notification system.

For more information about the Sewage Notification Assistance Grant Program, please visit: https://

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Federal Government Sets Lower PFAS Standard; Massachusetts Municipalities May Have to Scramble to Comply

The middle of April saw the federal government issue the first-ever national, legally enforceable drinking water standard to protect communities from exposure to harmful per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as ‘forever chemicals.’ Exposure to PFAS has been linked to deadly cancers, impacts to the liver and heart, and immune and developmental damage to infants and children. The final rule represents the most significant step taken under the EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap.

In particular, the new EPA rule sets limits for five individual PFAS: PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, and HFPO-DA (also known as “GenX Chemicals”). The rule also sets a limit for mixtures of any two or more of four PFAS: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and “GenX chemicals.” The EPA estimates that between about 6% and 10% of the 66,000 public drinking water systems subject to this rule may have to take action to reduce PFAS to meet these new standards. All public water systems

have three years to complete their initial monitoring for these chemicals. They must inform the public of the level of PFAS measured in their drinking water. Where PFAS is found at levels that exceed these standards, systems must implement solutions to reduce PFAS in their drinking water within five years.

According to a release from the EPA, the new limits in this rule are achievable using a range of available technologies and approaches including granular activated carbon, reverse osmosis, and ion exchange systems. In the coming weeks, the EPA will host a series of webinars to provide information to the public, communities, and water utilities about the final PFAS drinking water regulation.

Additionally, EPA has a nationwide Water Technical Assistance program to help small, rural, and disadvantaged communities access federal resources by working directly with water systems to identify

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Legislative Update continued from page 15 MAY, 2024 “BUY FROM THE ADVERTISERS IN CONSTRUCTION OUTLOOK” 17
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challenges like PFAS; develop plans; build technical, managerial, and financial capacity; and apply for water infrastructure funding.

More details about the final PFAS drinking water standards:

• For PFOA and PFOS, EPA is setting a Maximum Contaminant Level Goal, a non-enforceable health-based goal, at zero. This reflects the latest science showing that there is no level of exposure to these contaminants without risk of health impacts, including certain cancers.

• EPA is setting enforceable Maximum Contaminant Levels at 4.0 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS, individually. This standard will reduce exposure from these PFAS in our drinking water to the lowest levels that are feasible for effective implementation.

• For PFNA, PFHxS, and “GenX Chemicals,” the EPA is setting the MCLGs and MCLs at 10 parts per trillion.

• Because PFAS can often be found together in mixtures, and research shows these mixtures may have combined health impacts, the EPA is also setting a limit for any mixture of two or more of the following PFAS: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and “GenX Chemicals.”

The EPA is issuing this rule after reviewing extensive research and science on how PFAS affects public health, while engaging with the water sector and with state regulators to ensure effective implementation. The EPA also considered 120,000 comments on the proposed rule from a wide variety of stakeholders.

In Massachusetts, an estimated 181 water systems in Massachusetts will likely be affected by new federal rules limiting toxic PFAS chemicals in drinking water. Of those, an estimated 95 will have to address these socalled “forever chemicals” for the first time, according to data from the MassDEP. While the MassDEP has not yet released a list of the affected communities; it is not thought that the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) will be impacted. The state has regulated PFAS in drinking water since 2020, setting a limit at 20 parts per trillion for six PFAS chemicals combined – exceedingly small amount – about the equivalent of a drop of water in a swimming pool.

PFAS are a category of chemicals used since the 1940s to repel oil and water and resist heat, which makes them useful in everyday products such as nonstick cookware, stain resistant clothing, and firefighting foam. The science is clear that exposure to certain PFAS over a long period of time can cause cancer and other illnesses. In addition, PFAS exposure during critical life stages such as pregnancy or early childhood can also result in adverse health impacts.

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Update continued from page 17
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News in Brief

• April Revenues Exceed Expectations; May Remains Critical. According to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, collections of $6.324 billion in April exceeded the Healey Administration's monthly benchmark of $5.291 billion by $1.034 billion or 19.5 percent. Much of the overage came in the form of capital gains tax revenue and income surtax revenue, money that must be set aside for education and transportation initiatives. While that funding is not available to support general budgeted spending, it does provide some comfort that state revenues are not in a freefall. Heading into April, state tax collections for fiscal 2024 were trailing expectations by $145 million - ahead of projections by $889 million. Given the performance of certain historically strong receipts, such as capital gains often are in April, budget analysts will be closely watching tax receipts for the month of May.

• Governor Signs Ch. 90 Road and Bridge Funding Bill. The end of April saw Governor Healey sign the annual road and bridge funding initiative, known as the Chapter 90 bill. In addition to the $200 million total in Chapter 90 funding for FY25, seven transportation infrastructure grant programs will each receive a total of $25 million in funding. The programs are: the Municipal Pavement Program, which focuses on the improvement of municipally-owned state-number routes; the Municipal Small Bridge Program, which provides financial assistance to cities and towns for small bridge replacement, preservation, and rehabilitation projects; the Rural Roadway Funding Program, which distributes funds to all 351 municipalities using a formula based on local road mileage, municipal population, and rurality; the Complete Streets Funding Program, which provides funding for municipalities to build infrastructure for “complete streets” projects that support travel for everyone regardless of method; the Municipal Bus Enhancement Program, which provides grant funding to build out infrastructure related to mass transit by bus; the Mass Transit Access Grant Program, which provides grants for design and construction improvements to access commuter rail stations or other mass transit stations; and the Municipal/Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Electric Vehicle (EV) Grant Program, which provides grants to RTAs and municipalities for the purchase of electric vehicles and related charging equipment. Information on specific Ch. 90 allocations can be found at: https://

• Grant Funding to Protect and Conserve Drinking Water Resources in Massachusetts Announced. The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ (EEA) announced it has

awarded grants from the Drinking Water Supply Protection program to seven communities, which will enable them to acquire land to ensure the safety and quality of drinking water and protect public health. Since 2004, the program has funded municipal and public water systems and fire districts’ acquisition of land for water protection. The properties will become protected open spaces, dedicated to water supply protection and land conservation. EEA selects projects that contribute to water supply protection, including the protection of existing or future wells and reservoirs, as well as protecting land that supports groundwater recharge. Conserving these lands has many additional benefits as well, such as enhancing passive outdoor recreation. Projects receiving Drinking Water Supply Protection grants are the: Chelmsford Water District, Dennis Water District, Town of Amherst; Town of Ipswich; Town of Marion; Town of Middleborough and the Wareham Fire District. To learn more about the specific grants, please visit: https://www.mass. gov/news/healey-driscoll-administration-awardsover-15-million-to-sa feguard-drinking-water-andprotect-public-health. n

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Legislative Update
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R epR esentative Dan Cahill

(10th essex)

Strong support from friends, family, and community members can play a significant role in someone's decision to run for office. At an early age, Representative Dan Cahill was encouraged by his mother to become politically active in his community, Lynn, Massachusetts. He has since been driven by a genuine desire to serve his community and make a positive impact on individual's lives. This passion for public service motivated him to first seek elected office at the age of 23, when representation of younger voices was needed at the local government level. Representative Cahill served on the Lynn School Committee at that time, and has since been elected to the City Council, and now State Representative.


As costs continue to rise, please give us your thoughts on how the State will continue to fund local aid to cities and towns to help support basic municipal services, specifically drinking water, wastewater, and underground utility infrastructure.


The Commonwealth can continue to offer targeted grants and incentives to municipalities, through entities like the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust, that prioritize infrastructure upgrades and demonstrate a commitment to sustainable, resilient, and cost-effective solutions. As we face the challenges of climate change, this could include rewards for implementing water conservation measures, adopting green infrastructure practices, or investing in renewable energy for water treatment facilities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the America’s Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), part of which the Massachusetts legislature directed for use in maintaining and building more water infrastructure, remain short term opportunities for continued investment in basic municipal services.



What are the major challenges for your district and region regarding continued economic growth?

Lynn has a diverse population, but it also struggles with economic disparities. High rates of poverty and unemployment in certain neighborhoods can hinder economic growth and exacerbate social inequalities. The high cost of housing in the Greater Boston area, including Lynn, poses a challenge for both residents and businesses. Affordable housing shortages can make it difficult for workers to live near their jobs and for employers to attract and retain talent. Adequate transportation infrastructure is crucial for connecting residents to employment centers and supporting business activity. Improving transportation options, including public transit and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, can enhance mobility and accessibility in our city and connect the greater region.


T he #InvestInWaterMA campaign, sponsored by UCANE, highlights the importance of water infrastructure im -

continued on page 23


Interview continued from page 21

provements to a wide variety of industries. Can you share a sampling of some of the specific industries in your district that benefit from our investments in water infrastructure?

Lynn is home to a variety of businesses that encompass a wide range of industries. Whether underpinning the excellent health care provided by the Lynn Community Health Center (health care) or making it possible for new innovations at GE Aerospace (aviation), Lynn’s water infrastructure system is essential to our continued growth. Community organizations like the Demakes

Family YMCA of Lynn can only provide the recreational, educational, and other services they provide with a strong system of underground utilities. Finally, attracting new businesses like Bent Water Brewing, which has called Lynn home since 2015, requires a water and wastewater system that can grow to meet any demand. The City of Lynn is ready to continue its upward growth; investing in our water infrastructure is an essential part of that effort.

As House Chair of the Joint Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources, what are some of the other environmental issues on your radar?

The Joint Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) heard a wide variety of issues over the legislative session, with topics garnering the most attention being plastic reduction, extended producer responsibility (EPR), rodenticide and pesticide application, water conservation and drought planning, and effects of climate change. In fact, the ENR Committee heard over 350 pieces of legislation this session alone. Of note to UCANE members, the initiative HB803 (Representative Sean Garballey - Representative Simon Cataldo) / SB453 (Senator Brendan Crighton), proposing a long-term mechanism for partially funding municipalities’ water infrastructure received a favorable report.

Will you please share some of your other nonenvironmental priorities for this legislative session?

I focus my remaining attention on reducing the cost of housing through the expansion of development, controlling the cost of health care, and enhancing public transportation options for Massachusetts residents. n

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Construction & Public Contracts Group, Hinckley Allen, LLP

Newly Proposed Federal Highway Rule: Buy America

In March of 2024, the United States Department of Transportation’s (“DOT”) Federal Highway Administration (“FHWA”) announced a new proposed rule relating to Buy America requirements for manufactured products used in highway projects involving federal funding. The proposed rule would alter a practice that has been in effect for many years.

According to the Transportation Secretary, “[f]or decades, America’s highway projects were allowed to use taxpayer dollars to purchase products manufactured in other countries . . . .” This was a reference to FHWA’s “general waiver of Buy America requirements for manufactured products used in federal-aid highway projects.” In its Press Release, FHWA stated that this general waiver – which has been in effect for more than 40 years – “waived the Buy America requirement for manufactured products.”

The newly proposed rule would “discontinue” this general waiver and apply Buy America standards to manufactured products in a manner consistent with the United States Office of Management and Budget’s (“OMB”) guidance implementing the Build America, Buy America Act (“BABA”) provisions of the recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. That is, under the proposed rule, in order to be deemed to have been “produced in the United States,” a manufactured product would need to be manufactured in the United States “and the cost of the components of the manufactured product that are mined, produced, or manufactured in the United States” would need to be “greater than 55 percent of the total cost of all components in the manufactured product.”

FWHA is touting this as a modernization of “outdated policy,” stating that, when “Buy America was enacted . . . manufactured products were used in in -

sufficient quantity on highway construction projects to incentivize domestic manufacturing, so there would be little benefit to applying the protections afforded under Buy America” to manufactured products. According to FHWA, the proposed rule responds to the President’s initiative to “maximize” the use of domestic products and “is expected to encourage investment” in “domestic manufacturing for highway construction.”

FHWA noted that the proposed rule does not change Buy America requirements applicable to iron or steel projects and will not change BABA requirements applicable to products classified as construction materials or excluded materials (i.e., “cement and cementitious materials; aggregates such as stone, sand, or gravel; or aggregate binding agents or addi -

continued on page 27

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tives”). FHWA also noted that it does not intend for the proposed standards “to supplant current FHWA waivers that cover specific manufactured products.”

The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on March 12, 2024. Comments are due by May 13, 2024. Among other things, FHWA seeks comment on whether a “transition” period would be needed “to allow contracting agencies, contractors, and manufacturers time to create appropriate systems and processes, as well as train staff on compliance with the proposed standards.” In addition, “FHWA specifically seeks comment on the minimum time required for [transition] and, accordingly, the effective date for the proposed Buy America requirements for manufactured products.” The FHWA also seeks comment as to whether its proposed rule should “only apply to Federal awards obligated or authorized after the effective date of a final rule . . . .” Additional information can be reviewed at FWHA’s Buy America webpage. n

Legal Corner continued from page 25 MAY, 2024 “BUY FROM THE ADVERTISERS IN CONSTRUCTION OUTLOOK” 27
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We are deeply saddened to announce that on April 18, 2024 our longtime member and friend Dom Frangioso (D. F. Frangioso & Co., Inc.) passed away at the age of 89.

Dom was the son on of the late Dominic F. Frangioso and Josephine (DiStefano). Beloved Husband of Joan (Loycano) Frangioso of Norwood, and devoted father of Nancy and her husband Ken Dieselman of Reading, and Janice and her husband Brian Norton of Mansfield. Brother of Dolores Delaney of Holyoke, and Richard Frangioso of Walpole. Proud grandfather of Cameron and Ryan Dieselman, and Molly and Thomas Norton. Dominic attended Boston Latin and graduated as a civil engineer from Northeastern University in 1957. He joined the family business and was President of D. F. Frangioso & Co, Inc. in Hyde Park for many decades. Their underground utility company completed

notable projects throughout Boston including rebuilding the Freedom Trail, revitalizing portions of the waterfront, and numerous hospitals and university jobs. He was an active member of UCANE, receiving the “We Dig New England” Contractor of the Year award in 1985 and then served as President in 1988. Dominic was a devout parishioner of both St. Angela’s and St. Timothy’s Church. Ever the dedicated Red Sox fan, he never missed watching a game. Dominic loved photography, tennis, and skiing. He will be greatly missed by his family.

The Officers, Board of Directors, Members, and Staff of UCANE extend their deepest sympathies and condolences to the entire Frangioso family. Dom’s years of experience and knowledge of our industry brought him the unequaled respect of his peers who feel a deep and personal sadness at his passing. n

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IntervIew wIth DennIs Morton DIrector of PublIc works town of PlAInvIlle, MA

Will you please provide us with some insight into your education, past experience, and history that led you into your current position?

I am a graduate of Tri County High school class of 1985 and I have been in public work for 24 years. I started my career with the town of Franklin, where I spent 12 years in different rolls from laborer to pump station operator.

I left Franklin and accepted a position for the town of Canton as the water sewer supervisor, where I managed a staff of 16. I oversaw the completion of a 2.3 MGD ultra filtration treatment plant and 1 MGD green sand treatment plant. I also set up and supervised many department maintenance programs, i.e., hydrant flushing, gate valve exercising, hydrant replacements, and meter replacements.

In 2017 I accepted the position of water and sewer operations supervisor with the town of Plainville. I was immediately tasked with addressing the big issue of discolored water stemming from the complaints that were running 30-60 per day. Over the next few years, through a few operational changes and by replacing five miles of old water mains, our water department made big strides in improving water quality for the residents, and complaints for discolored water dropped to less than five per year. In 2019, I was promoted to operations manager, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the highway, water, and sewer departments. I also managed the snow and ice program and a small bridge replacement project.

port to me. With a dedicated staff of only 12 hard working employees serving the town, we take care of the roads, sidewalks, and underground public infrastructure throughout the community.

Please provide us with a brief description of the Town of Plainville in regards to population, area, etc., and some statistics on current infrastructure, i.e., water, sewer, stormwater, and roads that your department has responsibilities for within the town.

Plainville covers an area of just under 12 square miles and has a population of 10,000… up from 8,800 in 2017. The Department of Public Works takes care of about 75 miles of town streets including all the drainage piping, catch basins, and outlets.

Our Water Division maintains 60 miles of water mains servicing 2500 customers, representing about 75% of the properties in town. The Department also maintains five water booster pump stations and two storage tanks. Plainville gets its water from five deep wells located in town. Four of the wells send water to the Turnpike Lake Water Treat-

In 2022, I accepted the role of Director of Public Works. In this position I directly supervise the Street Department operations. The Water Department Supervisor and the Sewer Department Supervisor re - continued on page 33


Public Works Pipeline continued from page 31

ment Plant, and the water from the fifth well goes to North Attleboro for treatment before going back into the Plainville distribution system. The Turnpike Lake Water Treatment Plant is operated by Plainville staff.

The Sewer Division looks after 35 miles of sewer mains that connect to about 70% of the town population. About 30% of the residences are on larger lots and are somewhat remote and rely on private septic systems. All sewer flows go to the Wastewater Treatment Facility in North Attleboro through an intermunicipal agreement.

The DPW coordinates the snow removal operations but about 90% of the operation is performed using trucks and equipment from third party private contractors.

What do you see as the town’s most pressing needs regarding infrastructure, and does the Town have a five-year Asset Management Plan in place to address those needs?

The town's most pressing issue is to inspect and seal our leaking sewer system. With sealing some leaking manholes and possibly relining

some sections of sewer, we hope to reduce the flows – and the costs – of sewage being sent to and being treated at the North Attleboro WWTP.

Plainville does have an asset management plan and we face a few challenges in the coming years including financing upgrades to the sewer system, increases in DPW staffing, addressing MS-4 regulations, and replacement of our 50-year-old water treatment plant.

What method does the Town of Plainville use to fund their infrastructure projects, and does the town utilize the SRF Loan Program managed by MassDEP for water projects?

Yes, we use the SRF loans when possible. Plainville has just been approved for a $25 million loan on the 2024 MassDEP Intended Use Plan. This will help us to finance the replacement of our Turnpike Lake WTP. Plainville applies for other grants as well, and we look forward every year to the State’s Chapter 90 funds and TIP funds to help us maintain our roads and sidewalks. Most of our public work’s projects also have a component of local funding provided by local taxes and through the town’s annual Capital Improvement Budget. continued on page 34

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Funds from the Federal Bi-Partisan Infrastructure Bill have been allocated to many cities and towns in Massachusetts over the last couple of years. Has Plainville been able to complete some infrastructure projects with these funds? Also, does Plainville have any projects coming out to bid in 2024 or 2025 that UCANE contractors would be interested in bidding?

Yes, Plainville has been able to secure some of those funds and they helped us replace about six miles of old cast iron water mains over the last few years. Again, our big project is the replacement (and capacity expansion) of the Turnpike Lake Water Treatment Plant, which has the SRF component in it. Although our drinking water has never had Federal PFAS limit concerns, MassDEP’s recent decision to lower the Massachusetts PFAS limits substantially below the Federal limit has added a new element and cost to our WTP. The design of the $25 Million WTP is well underway with possible bidding in late 2024.

The sewer inspection and sealing project was recently put out to bid and will be starting up soon. n

Products and Services

Public Works Pipeline continued from page 33
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Deadline Approaches for EPA’s Revised Lead and Copper Rule

Mass. Municipalities must submit their water services inventory to MassDEP by October 16, 2024* *MassDEP began accepting inventories on April 1, 2024

On August 4, 2022, EPA released Guidance for Developing and Maintaining a Service Line Inventory to support water systems with their efforts to develop inventories and to provide states with needed information for oversight and reporting to EPA. The guidance provides essential information to help water systems comply with the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions requirement to prepare and maintain an inventory of service line materials to the MassDEP by October 16, 2024.

There is no safe level of lead exposure. EPA will continue to strengthen actions to protect communities from lead in drinking water. This guidance alongside regulatory improvements, infrastructure investments like the $15 billion provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for identifying and replacing lead service lines (LSLs), and other actions, are significant steps towards replacing 100% of LSLs across the country. Service line inventories are the foundation from which water systems can take action to address LSLs. Establishing an inventory of service line materials and identifying the location of LSLs are key steps in getting them replaced.

REQUIRED INVENTORY ELEMENTS AND DEFINITIONS Your inventory must include all service lines, regardless of the actual or intended use. You must classify the municipal- and customer-owned portions separately where ownership is split. EPA discourages Partial Lead Service Line Replacements and encourages Full Replacement Programs. EPA will provide training, guidance, and tools on developing lead service line replacement programs, including how to ensure equitable implementation of removal projects. EPA will provide guidance on available methods for replacing full lead service lines as safely and efficiently as possible.


You can use investigative methods to classify service line materials as long as the methods are approved by your state (MassDEP). These methods could also be used to verify water system records. Investigative methods described in the full guidance include visual inspection by the customer and/or system personnel, water quality sampling, excavation, and predictive modeling. The full guidance document by EPA provides information on each method and possible approaches for prioritizing investigations


If a water system owner has lead, galvanized, or unknown water service lines, you must provide notification to persons served by these lines within 30 days after completing the initial inventory.

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Boston Concrete Corp.

706 Broadway Street

Lowell, MA 01854

Rep: Karin Marshall

Tel: (978) 937-7222




ECI Technologies, LLC

P.O. Box 615

Wilbraham, MA 01095

Rep: Sally Benninger

Tel: (877) 572-3414




Eastcom Associates, Inc.

185 Industrial Prky Suite G

Branchburg, NJ 08876

Rep: Eric Denslow

Tel: (908) 722-7774




Granite City Electric

19 Quincy Ave.

Quincy, MA 02169

Rep: Chris Baynes

Tel: (978) 618-6310




Lindon Group, Inc.

310 Bourne Ave. Bld. 67F

Rumford, RI 02916

Rep: Josh Fonte

Tel: (401) 272-2081

Fax: (401) 276-0243


Website: Associate

Marchetti Commercial Fuels Inc.

131 Ballard Street

Saugus, MA 01906

Rep: Anthony Marchetti Jr.

Tel: (781) 953-1143


Website: Associate

Niez Tech LLC

1250 Long Pond Road

Brewster, MA 02631

Rep: Brian Niezgoda Tel: (774) 722-3033


Website: Associate

On Point Construction Services, LLC

540 Meadow Street, Suite 101

Agawam, MA 01001

Rep: Kyle Murphy

Tel: (413) 292-5626


Website: Associate

Stopping Traffic, LLC

P. O. Box 115

Centerville, MA 02632

Rep: Gretchen Drifmeyer

Tel: (508) 776-7079


Website: Associate

Topcon Solutions

873 Great Road

Stow, MA 01775

Rep: Cameron Balls

Tel: (978) 897-5006


Website: Associate


Dalton, MA – MassDOT East/West Housatonic Streets Road Reconstruction – H-beam precast concrete retaining wall installation using Lo-Dril

“Multi-faceted family business tackles tough jobs in New England and makes them look easy.”

Pedro and Laurinda Baltazar said goodbye to their small hometown of Padornelos in Northern Portugal in 1955 and emigrated to America for a chance at a better life for themselves and their family. Their oldest son, Francisco, remained in Portugal to complete his high school education and joined his family in 1958 at the age of 16. The Baltazar’s settled in Ludlow, Massachusetts, which at that time was becoming a destination for many Portuguese immigrants. Young Francisco was anxious to go to work and it did not take him long to find a job in one of several factories operating in and around Ludlow. After 10 years of factory work, Francisco decided to try construction and in 1968 he started work as a laborer for a local contractor. That would be the beginning of a very long and successful career in construction for him. He quickly picked up a knack for the business and ultimately advanced to being foreman on a pipe crew.

In 1978 Francisco, along with two partners, founded F&J Construction and concentrated in the public works market doing water and sewer projects, roadwork, and small bridge repairs. During the early 90s the three partners were seeing their children getting old enough to join the business. F&J was growing and the partners were developing some great second-generation talent.

In 1992, the partners mutually agreed to dissolve F&J Construction, divide assets, and go in independent directions. Francisco formed Baltazar Contractors, Inc., with his son Paulo and purchased property for their new business in a new Industrial Park called Carmelinas Circle in Ludlow. The company would continue to focus on the horizontal construction industry and soon became a respected competitor for small and mid-size public works projects in the Western, MA and Connecticut areas.

continued on page 40


The Family Business Grows

Francisco and his oldest son Paulo, along with a few employees who carried over from the dissolved F&J operation, were faced with the challenging task of building up the new Baltazar Contractors, Inc. in the early 90s, which was a very competitive bidding environment for public contractors. They started with two pipe crews and Paulo and Francisco each ran a crew. They stuck with the sewer and water work that they excelled in with an occasional road project thrown in. Francisco and Paulo and their relatively small team were soon getting high marks from area DPW Directors and other agencies for their ability to perform quality work on schedule. They finished their first year in 1992 with 15 employees and a gross annual volume of $3M.

Throughout the rest of the 90s Baltazar Contractors gradually increased their volume and began bidding larger and more complex projects. The jobs were making money, the company was gaining a positive reputation, and the father/son owners worked long hours and invested the majority of company profits back into the business. Successful projects and financial statements “in the black” pleased the bonding company. Bonding limits increased and the company became pre-qualified with both MassDOT and ConnDOT. By 2000, the company had increased their equipment fleet dramatically and now had over 40 employees. They were now running multiple crews and doing a volume approaching $15M. A remarkable achievement for any 8-year-old construction company.

With the 21st Century Comes More Family and More Success

In 2004 Francisco Baltazar’s youngest son Dinis joined the family business after a short career working as a pharmacist. Although Dinis had worked with his father and brother during some college summers, he had some catching up to do to prove his worth in the construction business. Dinis rolled up his sleeves and “dug in” to the excavation business. With “encouragement” from Francisco and Paulo, the younger Baltazar “burned the midnight oil” and proved to be a quick learner. According to Francisco, “We pushed Dinis pretty hard early on, but he held his own and never wavered. After a couple of years Paulo and I knew Dinis had what it took to be a key contributor to the company. That was a proud moment for me, not only being able to work with my two sons, but knowing that both of them had the ability to carry this company forward.”

Baltazar continued to grow with Dinis added to the team and being “fast-tracked” into the construction business by his father and brother. The company challenged

Wethersfield, CT – Goff Brook Overflow Project – One of seven circular liner plate support of excavation shafts installed up to 30 ft deep, typical for 30-inch and 48-inch pipe jacking operations.

Waltham, MA – MWRA Section 101 Extension Project - New MWRA 36-inch butterfly valve chamber and concrete thrust collars being installed.

themselves at times taking on projects that required specialty construction techniques including ledge blasting, dewatering, and tunnelling. Like most general contractors, Baltazar at first subcontracted the specialty work items. They watched their specialty subs very closely and learned the details on how the specialty work was done and what type of specialty equipment was required to do the work. Once the owners felt comfortable that they could self-perform a specialty work item, they invested in the state-of-the art equipment best suited for that work and added that item to their growing list of capabilities.

Baltazar continued from page 39 40 “BUY FROM THE ADVERTISERS IN CONSTRUCTION OUTLOOK” MAY, 2024

Springfield, MA – Washburn CSO Project - twin 24inch FRP Sewers crossing below a 66-inch diameter brick combined sewer line, entering a 25 ft deep Special Structure Pit supported by H-Piles/lagging and Hydraulic Bracing System.

Amherst, MA – MassDOT Route 116 Double Round About Project –Final Configuration

Already licensed and proficient in rock blasting operations, the company sought more efficiency by having better control of explosives product costs and deliveries. The Baltazars established Baystate Blasting, Inc., in 2003, a separate company that is federally licensed by ATF and licensed to operate in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and New York. In addition to drilling and blasting of trench rock the company gradually expanded into site and quarry rock blasting, line drilling, cushion blasting, hoe ramming, and seismic monitoring. Knowing that getting rid of blasted

rock is always a headache, Baystate Blasting also owns a full line of mobile crushing equipment that can be easily set-up on site to convert blasted ledge into usable product and aggregates.

Over the years Baltazar Contractors, Inc., has not only mastered rock removal and crushing/recycling operations, but they have also expanded into other specialty areas that many excavating contractors would typically need to subcontract out. The company has their own 80ton Hydraulic crane and vibratory hammers and performs their own steel sheet piling and H-pile and lagging operations in-house. They own the equipment and perform pipe bursting and pipe jacking operations. When ground conditions require dewatering efforts, the company has a fleet of submersible electric pumps and generators and can install deep wells with their own drill rigs and oscillators capable of drilling 36-inch diameter holes up to 45ft in depth. The company has also added two vacuum excavators to support its operations. “I have always believed that by self-performing as many elements of a construction project as possible, we can be more cost competitive and better able to control our schedules,” says company president Paulo Baltazar.” The steady growth of our company has made sure that none of our specialty equipment stays idle for very long.”

Signature Projects

When asked if there was one particular project that tested the company’s skills and that perhaps elevated Baltazar Contractor’s stature within the utility construction industry, the Baltazar brothers identified the Washburn Street CSO project for the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission, awarded to the company in 2013. The $18M three-year project involved installing 48-inch diameter concrete pipe to separate storm water from the city’s aging and overwhelmed sanitary system. The work involved deep cuts in city streets with all types of shored excavations and support of existing critical infrastructure. There was a 60-inch steel sleeve jacking required below railroad tracks with a high groundwater table, slip lining of 84-inch pipe with new 72-inch FRP, and structural rehab of old 66-inch brick sewers. Several massive castin-place flow control structures required bypassing and steel sheeted deep excavations.” This project really tested all the skills within our company, both in the field and in management,” recalled the brothers. “We really think that project proved Baltazar Contractors could compete with the best in our business.”

Fresh off the Washburn Street project, Baltazar Contractors landed its largest single contract in 2017 with the Goff Brook Overflow project for the Hartford County (Connecticut) Metropolitan District. Requiring Pre-Qualification with Connecticut Dept of Administrative Services, the $30M project was another milestone in the growth of continued on page 43

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Baltazar continued from page 41

Baltazar Contractors. The three-year project included a mile of deep interceptor sewers ranging from 30 inches to 48 inches in diameter through a combination of open cut and trenchless technologies. Special support of excavation included a two-phase steel sheet river crossing, seven circular liner plate shafts (27’ diameter) and six large beam and lagging pits, both up to 34-ft deep. The project also included a major rehab to a 10.8 MGD pump station, extensive utility relocations, and traffic control. Again, the company impressed the municipal owner with their execution and creative solutions to obstacles, and the job finished on schedule.

Current Operations and Looking Forward

Today Paulo Baltazar is company President and oversees all field operations. Dinis is the company Secretary and Treasurer and heads up the Estimating and Project Management side of the business. Company founder Francisco Baltazar has deservedly stepped back a bit after 30 years of sharing his knowledge and then his company with his two sons. You can still find Francisco at Carmelinas Circle checking up on things. These days he is beaming with pride as his grandson, Francisco Baltazar, recently entered the business after graduating with an engineering degree from Syracuse University.

Even on a snowy day in early April, while interviewing for this article, there was still a lot of activity at 83 Carmelinas Circle. Estimators were busy preparing bids,

Wethersfield, CT – Goff Brook Overflow Project –

One of six beam and lagging support of excavation pits to install CSO regulator structure connecting to the existing 30-inch sewer line.

mechanics were in the garage, and project managers were coordinating 70 field employees working on multiple projects still active through the winter.

One of those projects is the Section 101 Extension in Waltham for the MWRA. The project involves installing 9,000 feet of new 36-inch ductile pipeline beneath heavily traveled Lexington Street and other urban streets in the city. Large vaults are required for meter chambers, blowoffs, and butterfly valves. Accommodating the 36-inch pipe and the concrete structures under these congested streets requires extensive relocations of existing city owned utilities and temporary bypassing of water mains and sewer flows. Traffic Control, staging, and rehandling of materials, and opening up streets to commuter access at the end of each day is a daily challenge. The $32M project kicked off in late 2022 and is now about 60% complete.

What started out as a “small family business” in 1992, Baltazar Contractors, Inc., may have already shed the word “small” from its description. According to Dinis Baltazar the company expects to employ 140 employees when at peak production this summer and looks toward annual revenues approaching $60M. “We may have outgrown the term “small,” but we are still very much a family business with a Baltazar still making most key company decisions and more third-generation Baltazars in the pipeline.” says Paulo, “ but the “family” title also extends to our dedicated and talented employees who continue to be the key to the success that Baltazar Contractors, Inc., has achieved and who will always be our most important assets.”

Wethersfield, CT – Goff Brook Overflow Project –

One of two stream crossings on the project, utilizing steel sheeting in two phases to install the 48-inch sewer overflow pipe across the stream.

UCANE has proudly counted Baltazar Contractors, Inc., as members since 2012. We congratulate them on their accomplishments and wish the Baltazar family many years of continued success in the Utility Construction Industry. n


Construction Safety & Compliance: An Interview with Katelyn Palladino

Loss Control Specialist, Acrisure

(Also known as DeSanctis Insurance Agency, Inc.)

UCANE’s “Construction Outlook” magazine editors recently caught up with Katelyn Palladino at a busy construction site in Boston. Katelyn is a loss control specialist who works for long-time UCANE member DeSanctis Insurance Agency, Inc., based in Woburn, MA who most recently rebranded to the Acrisure name. Katelyn works closely with Acrisure/DeSanctis’ Construction clients to assist them with their field operations to make sure that all operations are in compliance, advise them of alternate risk solutions if required, and to assure that all of the client’s activities have the proper insurance coverage. She has a background steeped in Construction Safety and shared her thoughts with UCANE on the critical importance of Safety & Health in today’s heavy construction industry.

Please give us some insight on your background in Construction Safety, and tell our readers how you eventually landed with DeSanctis Insurance Agency, Inc., now Acrisure.

I am a graduate of Keene State College with a degree in Environmental Health and Safety. My love for construction started at a young age when my dad would take my brothers and I to his jobsites on Saturday mornings. I have been around construction my entire life. When I was in high school, a family member was partially buried in a trench and luckily survived. During my first semester at Keene State College, I learned of the Health and Safety Program, and I knew I wanted to change majors and focus on construction safety. After graduating from college, I worked in the field as a Safety Manager for large construction companies in Boston. Getting field experience on such complex projects has given me great exposure and knowledge within safety. Working closely with the men and women in the field has given me firsthand exposure to construction safety and the day-to-day challenges that arise.

While working in the field I was approached by a large national insurance carrier that had a specific division in construction. They were looking for an individual that was familiar with the construction workflow, had field experience, and an understanding of insurance. This new position brought me into the insurance world. It was important to me that I was still able to focus on construction health and safety. While working for the insurance company I was able to work closely with many New England contractors, ensuring safety was a high priority from the office to the field.

While working for the insurance carrier I was noticed by producers at DeSanctis Insurance/Acrisure Agency Partner. DeSanctis Insurance partnered with Acrisure many years ago and they were looking to expand their Risk Control resources in New England. Acrisure Agency Partners have now come together as one organization and our office adopted the Acrisure brand name as of March 25, 2024. By coming together as the Acrisure New England Region and operating under the Acrisure brand, we will be more

continued on page 47

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cohesive and better positioned to provide our clients with access to a greater range of product and services, while simultaneously providing the same extraordinary value and service. I look forward to utilizing my education and past work experiences as part of the Acrisure/DeSanctis team to continue advocating for, and providing guidance and support to, our clients in the years to come.

What types of Safety and Health related services and support should a contractor be looking for today from their insurance agency?

Today all insured clients, and especially contractor clients, are focusing more than ever before on Health and Safety in the workplace. Contractors should be looking for their insurer to provide them with a wide range of Safety and Health related services, and to support their business by ensuring that their business has comprehensive coverage and operates in compliance with the appropriate regulations that govern their workplace or jobsite. Today’s leading insurance agencies are able to provide contractors with experienced in-house safety personnel who can provide them with pre-bid or pre-construc -

tion risk assessment and management, claim management, and a myriad of safety trainings. They can also provide periodic jobsite safety review of formal safety programs, and even provide job hazard analysis.

A good Loss Control Specialist can assist with the knowledge of the construction industry’s “best practices” while working with several different trades and subcontractors. During their time with the client, they will assist with implementing and continuously improving the contractor’s safety, fleet, return to work, and crisis management programs. By helping contractors improve these important programs, the Loss Control Specialist is working to keep jobsite injuries continued on page 49

Safety & Compliance continued from page 45 MAY, 2024 “BUY FROM THE ADVERTISERS IN CONSTRUCTION OUTLOOK” 47
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and claims down, ultimately reducing insurance costs for businesses in the long run.

The insurance company and the contractor are very much partners in safety today, and contractors should not be hesitant to ask their insurers for support, or to act as another set of eyes when it comes to jobsite health and safety. I very much enjoy working as part of a team with our clients and knowing that my collaborative hands-on efforts are reducing risks for workers and the public and also creating a more productive work environment.

What types of injuries or claims have been most prevalent in the New England Construction Insurance market over the past year?

While reviewing loss trends and frequencies with clients and other safety professionals in the area, fall-related injuries are often reviewed. Falls are one of the leading causes of injuries in construction. It could be a fall from height, such as a ladder, fall from same level, scaffolding, or roof, are among the most common causes of injuries in the construction industry. Proper use of ladders and scaffolding

are often reviewed in the field. Also, in the construction industry, Struck-by and transportation-related injuries are significant concerns. Struck-by injuries occur when a worker is struck by an object, equipment, or vehicle. Examples of injuries are employees being struck by falling objects, moving equipment, flying debris, swinging objects, and collapsing structures. Transportation-related injuries occur during transportation activities within construction sites or driving between sites. Common factors are vehicle collisions, pedestrian accidents, unsafe loading/unloading, falls from vehicles, and inadequate traffic controls.

These types of incidents occur due to poor planning, inadequate systems, and improper safety controls put in place. When reviewing claims, loss trends, and near misses with a client we focus on how important it is to pre-plan work accordingly. Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) helps employees systematically plan a task to identify and analyze potential hazards associated with a task. Preventing injuries requires a combination of engineering controls, administrative measures, and personal protective equipment (PPE). When implementing engineering controls, it is important to look into installing proper barriers, guardrails, overhead protection, backup alarms, proximity sensors and visibility aids. Administrative measures are continued on page 50

Safety & Compliance continued from page 47 MAY, 2024 “BUY FROM THE ADVERTISERS IN CONSTRUCTION OUTLOOK” 49

Safety & Compliance continued from page 49

put in place when developing and enforcing strict safety policies and procedures with trainings and safe work practices. Lastly, providing workers with the appropriate PPE such as hard hats, high-visibility clothing, safety glasses, proper footwear, and gloves can also help eliminate injuries and near misses. The goal when implementing a JHA is to identify potential hazards and implement appropriate controls to mitigate the risk.

What are some of the greatest challenges you see in trying to assist contractors in creating a “Zero Accident” jobsite?

achieve consistently. It is important to have accurate and timely data on near misses, incidents, and their root causes to identify trends and prioritize safety initiatives. This matrix can help measure progress towards a goal of a “Zero Accident” jobsite. Establishing and training employees on a robust reporting system is important to measure performance and the safety culture. It is important for a company to understand that continuous improvement is a key factor to achieve this goal. Safety is an ongoing process that requires adjustments to adapt to the everchanging jobsite each day. Proactive leadership with effective communication, training, and commitment to continuous improvement from the entire company is important when striving to achieve these goals.

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and safety c ommunity. This can provide valuable opportunities for mentorship, collaboration, and career advancement. Attend the events, join the online webinars, and connect with the professionals within your network. It is important to have a passion when promoting health and safety in the workplace. In this job you are protecting the wellbeing of workers and making sure they go home to their families safely each day. Just like continuously improving a company it is important to continuously learn. Construction is evolving and new regulations, technologies, and best practices are emerging. You must be able to effectively communicate with your peers. In construction, there are diverse backgrounds and many personalities you have to collaborate with. You need creative problem-solving skills to analyze a situation and identify hazards, while forming a practical solution to mitigate risk and improve safety performance from everyone you encounter along your way. If you are considering a career in safety, education and training is important to help develop skills and knowledge while making meaningful contributions to the safety and well-being of the construction workers. n Safety & Compliance continued from page 50

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2024 Value of Water Index

The Value of Water Campaign polls American voters annually to better understand their opinions on our nation’s water infrastructure, what they view as priorities for action, and potential solutions.

The Value of Water Campaign is pleased to share the results of our ninth annual national poll of over 1,000 American voters, conducted by the bipartisan research team of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz, and Associates (D) and New Bridge Strategy (R).

The poll was conducted between March 11 and March 18, 2024. This year, we sought insights on Americans’ perceptions around the need for continued federal investment in our nation’s water infrastructure, where that investment should be focused, and outlooks on water safety and affordability.

Ensuring reliable water services continues to be the top issue for voters, and concern about water infrastructure is on the rise.

For the fourth year in a row, ensuring a reliable water supply was the top priority of voters—with 88 percent of voters ranking it as extremely or very important. This was followed by reducing inflation and strengthening the economy, with 86 percent of voters ranking each as extremely or very important.

Support for water comes as voter outlooks on the state of the nation’s water infrastructure continue to decline. Indeed, only 34 percent of voters rated the current condition of the nation’s water infrastructure as good—a new low—whereas 46 percent of voters rated the current condition as bad.

There is strong bipartisan support for more federal water funding to help improve the nation’s water infrastructure.

Sixty-five percent of voters said they would support continued federal investment in water after the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law sunsets. Twenty percent of voters would oppose continued federal investment in the same circumstances, and 16 percent were unsure.


of voters would support continued federal investment in water after the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law sunsets 88% of voters ranked ensuring a reliable water supply as extremely important or very important
Voter assesment of the current state of the nation’s water infrastructure

A majority of voters support elected officials who advocate for investment in water.

Sixty-three percent of all voters would view an elected official who supported additional investment in water infrastructure more favorably, with only 14 percent viewing such an official less favorably.

Water affordability is a rising concern among voters, yielding growing support for a permanent federal water bill assistance program.

In the last six years, the percentage of voters who find their water service unaffordable has more than doubled, rising from 13 percent of voters in 2018 to 30 percent of voters in 2024. Accordingly, 59 percent of voters would support making the LowIncome Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), a federal government assistance program to help low-income customers pay their water bills and avoid shutoffs, a permanent program.

63% of all voters would view an elected official who supported additional investment in water infrastructure more favorably

A majority of voters would pay modest rate increases to support local utility projects that improve water accessibility and community health.

Despite affordability concerns, 61 percent of voters would pay 50 dollars more per year on their water bills if it helped fund projects that prioritized the safety and health of their area’s drinking water and ensured that everyone in their community had basic water and sewer service.


MAY, 2024 “BUY FROM THE ADVERTISERS IN CONSTRUCTION OUTLOOK” 53 ©2024 Value of Water Campaign. All rights reserved.
Percentage of voters who find their water service unaffordable 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 2018201920202021202220232024 13% 13% 14% 17% 23% 21% 30% of voters support
government-funded assistance
a permanent
program to help
customers pay their
bills and avoid shutoffs
helped make drinking water safer and healthier ensured that everyone in their community had basic water services 61% of voters would pay $50 more per year on their water bills if it: helped reduce pollution


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OSHA National News Release

U.S. Department of Labor March 29, 2024

Release Number:24-215-NAT

US Department of Labor issues final rule to clarify rights to employee representation during OSHA inspections

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today published a final rule clarifying the rights of employees to authorize a representative to accompany an Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance officer during an inspection of their workplace.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act gives the employer and employees the right to authorize a representative to accompany OSHA officials during a workplace inspection. The final rule clarifies that, consistent with the law, workers may authorize another employee to serve as their representative or select a non -employee. For a nonemployee representative to accompany the compliance officer in a workplace, they must be reasonably necessary to conduct an effective and thorough inspection.

Consistent with OSHA's historic practice, the rule clarifies that a non -employee representative may be reasonably necessary based upon skills, knowledge or experience. This experience may include knowledge or experience with hazards or conditions in the workplace or similar workplaces, or language or communication skills to ensure an effective and thorough inspection. These revisions better align OSHA's regulation with the OSH Act and enable the agency to conduct more effective inspections. OSHA regulations require no specific qualifications for employer representatives or for employee representatives who are employed by the employer.

The rule is in part a response to a 2017 court decision ruling that the agency's existing regulation, 29 CFR 1903.8(c), only permitted employees of the employer to be authorized as representatives. However, the court acknowledged that the OSH Act does not limit who can serve as an employee representative and that OSHA's historic practice was a "persuasive and valid construction" of the OSH Act. Today's final rule is the culmination of notice and comment rulemaking that clarifies OSHA's inspection regulation and aligns with OSHA's longstanding construction of the act.

"Worker involvement in the inspection process is essential for thorough and effective inspections and making workplaces safer," said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. "The Occupational Safety and Health Act gives employers and employees equal opportunity for choosing representation during the OSHA inspection process, and this rule returns us to the fair, balanced approach Congress intended." The rule is effective on May 31, 2024.

Media Contacts: Frances Alonzo, 202-997-6977, Patrick Malone, 202-693-4631,


MWRA Studies Expanding Water Service to Towns Around Quabbin Reservoir

The study the MWRA is considering would expand the water service to Ludlow, Belchertown, Ware, Hardwick, Barre, Petersham, Phillipston, New Salem, Orange, Wendell, Shutesbury, and Pelham.

As House Democrats eye the expansion of its public drinking water service area, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority is considering whether the communities where that water comes from should finally get to reap the benefits of the system.

The MWRA board is undertaking a preliminary study to direct water from the Quabbin Reservoir – which provides Boston and other eastern Massachusetts communities with drinking water – to the western Mass. towns that surround and protect the reservoir.

The agency currently provides wholesale water and sewer services to 3.1 million people and more than 5,500 businesses in 61 communities in eastern and central Massachusetts, though the system's primary source, the Quabbin Reservoir, lies in the western part of the state.

"The Quabbin Reservoir provides life for eastern Massachusetts and allows the eastern part of the state to grow and expand – and yet for far too long, the recompense for towns that steward this water has been a pittance relative to the value," Senator Jo Comerford of Northampton said last year.

Comerford and Representative Aaron Saunders of Belchertown filed a bill (S 447/H 897) that would impose a 5-cent per 1,000 gallon excise on Quabbin water. The lawmakers estimate the tax would produce $3.5 million, which would be directed to Quabbin watershed communities and local nonprofits with a focus on these towns' health, welfare, safety and transit.

That bill would also mandate the MWRA explore opportunities to expand into new communities in the Quabbin watershed, as well as towns in the Westfield River, Chicopee River, Connecticut River and Millers River Valley basins. The bill is currently in a gray area as the Senate waits for the House to agree on wheth -

er to extend its reporting deadline until June.

The study the MWRA is considering would expand the water service to Ludlow, Belchertown, Ware, Hardwick, Barre, Petersham, Phillipston, New Salem, Orange, Wendell, Shutesbury, and Pelham.

Boston didn’t have enough water and there was land in Western Massachusetts that was perfect for a reservoir – but 2,500 people lived there. In 1938, they had to give up everything so the state could take the land. This is the story of the Quabbin Reservoir and the people still affected by its construction.

Some lawmakers, however, say the preliminary study is not ambitious enough.

Board members said they had met with some western Massachusetts lawmakers who think the MWRA should explore a broader scope, including some of the larger communities in western Massachusetts.

“I think the staff is viewing this as kind of the first good step,” said Colleen Rizzi, director of environmental and regulatory affairs at the MWRA. “And that’s to look at the communities right in and around the Quabbin itself, see what’s viable, what’s feasible

continued on page 58


MWRA Studies continued from page 57 before extending that to a larger geography.”

The expansion study, set to be completed by the end of 2024, will add to a growing pile of ways the MWRA has looked to expand its service.

Since October 2022, the agency has had three feasibility studies completed, looking at the potential to expand the MWRA system in the Metro West area (Acton, Ayer, Bedford, Chelmsford, Concord, Groton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hudson, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Natick, Sherborn, Stow, Sudbury, Wayland, Wellesley, Westborough, Westford and Weston), the Ipswich River Basin (Beverly, Danvers, Hamilton, Ipswich, Middleton, Lynn, the Lynnfield Center Water District, Peabody, Salem, Topsfield, Wenham and Wilmington) and to the South Shore (Abington, Avon, Brockton, Cohasset, Hanover, Hingham, Norwell, Scituate, Rockland, Weymouth and the Union Point development).

Meanwhile, House Speaker Ron Mariano recently called for the expansion of the agency’s service area, specifically to include the Union Point development at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station.

Mariano said the House would include a service expansion in their version of a large housing bond bill that representatives plan to take up soon.

“Another critical step in the effort to increase housing production is ensuring that the Commonwealth is equipped with the infrastructure needed to support a significant increase in development. That’s why the House bill will unlock the full potential of the MWRA by expanding its area of service to provide clean water to future housing developments,” the speaker said in March.

Asked for details by a reporter about the water supply expansion, Mariano named some South Shore towns.

“Depending on how far we want to go, and how far the MWRA is willing to go… it’s going to go from Quincy through Weymouth, I want it to go at least –it’s got to go to Brockton. So we’ll figure out roughly based on that mileage,” Mariano said.

He added that he’s not only considering a South Shore expansion.

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Stephen Estes-Smargiassi, director of planning and sustainability at the MWRA, said at a recent meeting that with increased rainfall and significantly lower water consumption over the past decade, the Quabbin is actually overflowing this year. Lower water consumption could be caused by more energyefficient appliances like toilets and dishwashers, as continued on page 59 Visit our website @

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MWRA Studies continued from page 58 well as an increased public effort to use less water, he said.

Despite adding new customers to the system, water demand in 2023 was the lowest since 1950.

“The MWRA has told me that they were looking at a northern expansion too. For the first time, it’s been so successful that the excess water is being wasted,” Mariano told reporters in March. “So why are we doing that? Let’s take advantage of it and use it.”

Reprinted from Written by Sam Drysdale. n

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Heat Exposure in Construction: Protecting Workers from Summer's Wrath

For the Boston area, July 2023 was the hottest month on record. Each year, across the United States, approximately 600 people are killed in heat-related deaths. Once again, as the scorching summer sun is about to start beating down on New England construction sites during the summer of 2024, the risk of heat-related illnesses among workers becomes a significant concern. Construction laborers are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of excessive heat due to the physically demanding nature of their work and the often-unforgiving environments in which they operate. With temperatures soaring and humidity levels rising, it's crucial for both employers and employees to take proactive measures to prevent heat-related illnesses and ensure the safety and well-being of construction workers.

Understanding the Risks

Construction workers are exposed to a myriad of factors that contribute to heat stress and heatrelated illnesses. These include direct exposure to sunlight, high temperatures, high humidity levels, and the physical exertion required to perform tasks such as lifting heavy materials, operating machinery, and working in confined spaces. Additionally, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) can further elevate body temperature by impeding the body's natural cooling mechanisms.

Heat-Related Illnesses

Heat-related illnesses range from mild heat cramps to severe conditions like heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be life-threatening if not promptly treated. During heat exhaustion, the body is desperately sweating to try to lower its core temperature. Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

• Muscle cramps

• Heavy sweating

• Extreme weakness or fatigue

• Dizziness

• Confusion

Nancy Hughes, President OHS Training & Consulting, Inc.
continued on page

Safety Corner continued from page 63

• Nausea

• Clammy, moist skin

• Pale or flushed complexion

• Dark urine

• Slightly elevated body temperature

• Fast and shallow breathing

Construction workers must be vigilant in recognizing these symptoms in themselves and their colleagues to prevent escalation to the more severe heat stroke. Heat stroke is a calamitous failure of the body to cool itself. During an episode of heat stroke, one’s body temperature rises rapidly. At 104°F, the situation becomes life-threatening. At 106°F, brain death begins. In the midst of this catastrophe, two ironic events occur. First of all, at a time when the victim needs to sweat more than ever to cool down, sweating stops and the skin becomes hot and dry. Second, at a time when the victim should be drinking copious fluids, he or she loses the desire to drink. Additional symptoms of heat stroke include: throbbing headache; muscle cramps; nausea and vomiting; fast heartbeat; rapid, shallow breathing; behavioral changes (e.g., confusion, disorientation); seizures; and loss of consciousness. Without emergency medical treatment, death is imminent. Prior to the arrival of emergency medi -

cal services, on-site treatment for heat stroke may include:

• Removal of restrictive clothing

• Cooling the person by:

• Moving the victim to the shade or an air conditioned area;

• Applying cool water to skin and clothing;

• Fanning the individual to promote evaporation;

• Applying ice packs to the groin and armpits;

• If the victim is able to drink liquids, he or she should slowly drink water, clear juice, or a sports beverage.

Mitigating Risks

Preventing heat-related illnesses in construction requires a multi-faceted approach involving both employers and employees. Here are some effective strategies to mitigate the risks associated with heat exposure:

1. Hydration: Providing access to cool water on-site and scheduling frequent breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas can help prevent dehydration. Workers should be encouraged to drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if they do not feel thirsty.

continued on page 65 or Call 811 Before You Dig

Follow these steps for a safe excavation:

• Pre-mark the location of intended excavation using white stakes, paint or flags.

• In MA, ME, NH and RI, notify Dig Safe® at least 72 hours in advance, not including weekends and holidays.

• In Vermont, notify Dig Safe® at least 48 hours in advance.

• Notify non-member facility owners.

• Maintain the marks placed by underground facility owners.

• Use caution and dig by hand when working within 18” of a marked facility.

• If a line is damaged, do not backfill. Notify the affected utility company immediately if the facility, its protective coating, or a tracer wire is damaged.

• Call 911 in the event of a gas leak, or if a damaged facility poses a risk to public safety.

• Know your state’s excavation requirements.

• Go to for educational material and current laws.

It’s smart. It’s free. It’s the law.

The focus should be on replacing the volume of fluid that is lost through sweat. In the hot sun, workers lose about one liter of fluid to sweat per hour. Therefore, as a general rule, they should consume approximately one liter of fluid per hour; this comes out to about a cup (8 oz.) of fluid every 15-20 minutes. The beverage of choice should be plain water. Most Americans are not salt-deficient. Therefore, drinking Gatorade or Powerade for electrolyte replacement is not necessary.

2. Acclimatization: Gradually expose workers to hot environments to allow their bodies to adapt to the heat. New employees or those returning from an extended absence should be given time to acclimate to the working conditions gradually.

3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Choose lightweight, breathable clothing that provides

adequate sun protection without compromising safety. Consider using cooling vests or clothing with builtin ventilation to help regulate body temperature.

4. Scheduling: Plan work schedules to minimize exposure to the hottest times of the day. Whenever possible, schedule strenuous tasks for cooler morning hours and avoid working during peak heat periods.

5. Education and Training: Provide comprehensive training to workers on recognizing the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and the importance of taking preventive measures. Empower workers to speak up if they feel unwell and encourage a culture of looking out for one another.

6. Shade and Ventilation: Erect temporary shelters or canopies to provide shade for workers during breaks. Ensure adequate ventilation in enclosed spaces to prevent the buildup of heat and humidity.

7. Monitoring: Implement a system for monitoring weather conditions and heat stress levels on-site. Utilize tools such as wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) meters to assess heat stress accurately and adjust work practices accordingly. Heat index tables are available on-line or one can download the smart phone app: OSHANIOSH Heat Safety Tool


Heat exposure poses a significant threat to the health and safety of construction workers, especially during the hot summer months. By implementing proactive measures to mitigate risks, employers can create a safer working environment and protect their workforce from heat-related illnesses. From proper hydration and acclimatization to scheduling and education, every step taken to address heat stress contributes to the well-being and productivity of construction workers. As temperatures continue to rise with climate change, prioritizing the protection of workers against heat exposure becomes increasingly imperative. Through collaborative efforts and a commitment to safety, employers and workers can ensure that construction sites remain safe and conducive to productive work even in the face of summer's relentless heat. n

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Building Security: The Basics of EPLI Coverage for Construction Companies

In the dynamic world of construction, navigating the complexities of employeerelated risks is essential for safeguarding your business's longevity and success.

Employer Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) is a crucial shield against potential legal and financial challenges stemming from claims of wrongful termination, discrimination, and retaliation. Let's delve into the fundamentals of EPLI coverage and why it's indispensable for construction firms.

Understanding EPLI's Role:

EPLI is a safety net, offering vital financial protection against costly lawsuits and settlements arising from employee-related claims. For construction companies, EPLI provides a sense of security, allowing them to focus on their core operations without the looming threat of legal disputes.

Mitigating Risks:

Educating employees and management about the importance of EPLI coverage and their respective roles in risk management fosters a culture of awareness and accountability within construction firms. Implementing clear anti-discrimination policies and conducting regular training sessions empowers employees to recognize and address potential issues before they escalate into legal disputes.

Key Questions for Construction Firms:

Employer Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) protects your construction firm from employmentrelated risks. To ensure you're getting the right coverage for your needs, here are some essential questions to ask your insurance broker or risk manager:

Coverage Specifics:

• Types of Claims: What employment-related

claims are covered under your EPLI policy? Ensure it includes protection for wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wage and hour violations.

• Coverage for Contractors: Does the policy cover claims from independent contractors? Since many construction firms utilize subcontractors, clarifying this aspect is essential.

• Immigration Claims: Does the policy offer any defense coverage for immigration-related claims, such as accusations of employing undocumented workers? This is particularly relevant in industries with diverse workforces.

• Industry Exclusions: Are there any policy exclusions relevant to the construction industry,

continued on page 70


Insurance Perspective continued from page 69 such as on-site injuries? Understanding these exclusions can help you assess potential gaps in coverage.

Cost and Limits:

• Coverage Limits: What are the different coverage limits available for EPLI, and what is the recommended limit for a construction firm of our size? It's crucial to ensure your coverage aligns with the scale and scope of your operations.

• Premium Factors: What factors will affect the cost of our EPLI premium? Factors like the number of employees and your claims history can influence premium rates.

• Discount Opportunities: Are discounts available for implementing best practices in employee relations, such as maintaining a clear employee handbook and providing anti-harassment training? Taking proactive steps can lead to premium discounts.

Additional Considerations:

• Risk Management Services: Does the EPLI policy offer risk management services, such as employee training programs? Investing in pre -

ventive measures can minimize the likelihood of claims and may even lead to lower premiums.

• Claims Response Time: How quickly will the insurer respond to a claim? Downtime due to lawsuits can be especially costly in the construction industry, so prompt claim resolution is crucial. By asking these questions and gaining clarity on your EPLI coverage, you can better protect your construction firm against potential employment-related risks and make informed decisions when choosing an insurance policy.

Proactively addressing employee-related risks through comprehensive EPLI coverage is a cornerstone of success in the competitive construction landscape. By investing in adequate insurance protection and prioritizing proactive risk management practices, construction companies can build a resilient foundation for sustainable growth and prosperity. Remember, in the construction industry, security begins with informed and proactive measures to mitigate potential liabilities. n


Let us review your programs and recommend improvements to ensure you are fully protected should the unexpected happen.


• All forms of liability and property coverages

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• Highly experienced with Construction programs

CHRISTOPHER CLARK, PRINCIPAL, CLIENT ADVISOR World Insurance Associates LLC, 50 Prospect Street, Waltham, MA 02453 O 781-642-9000 | D 781-398-9318 | M 508-400-4010 |


What You Think vs. What You Know

A case for fact-based strategic planning

Strategic planning and business planning are two common elements of any business that get thrown around somewhat synonymously. Regardless of whether you think strategic planning is based on the long view and business planning is more tactical and in the here and now, there are elements of both that are often overlooked.

For instance, the textbook definition of any planning should incorporate a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. This is an integral discussion that looks at internal strengths and weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats. Most firms use this sound tool to provide context for a short- or long-range plan, but it is often gained internally. Associates of the organization chime in with their thoughts and rationale about why a firm is great or where they should actively engage the market more deeply. The key word is “internal.”

There is no question that a firm should involve the team that will lead the strategy. However, there is something to be said for a firm that goes the extra level and examines the market in which they operate with a deeper, fact-based analysis. One such tool is a PEST (or PESTLE) analysis, which uncovers the ramifications of the political, economic, social and technological aspects of the market (legal and environmental are included in PESTLE).

The PEST analysis originated in 1967 by Harvard professor Francis Aguilar. While the aforementioned SWOT does take into account those external drivers,

the PEST’s deeper dive provides not only an understanding of those opportunities and threats, but also the leverage point. For instance, it is fairly common to talk about “the economy” in a strategic planning session. It may be a threat or a weakness, but the real questions could be as follows:

• As interest rates increase, what will this do to consumer spending, vis-à-vis consumer goods manufacturers, or retail markets in which we operate?

• As unemployment ratchets down, what will be our response to both compensation (i.e., an employee-driven market driving wage rates) and the overall supply of potential workers?

These are two basic questions that every firm should consider and have an opinion on. Additionally, there is no shortage of opinions across the political landscape. In both cases, the key is to avoid basing business decisions on opinions, and using the facts within the market to create the best possible outcome. This is not to say a leader cannot have an opinion on who they like in office or various legislation that may get passed. However, it is

continued on page 73




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important to avoid letting a strategic plan be dictated by those opinions. Put another way, you may not like who is leading your city, state or country, but it is important to remain focused on the potential ramifications and potential impact on the business.


Once again, there is no shortage of opinions in the world today about any political leader or party. As a business leader, the important things to remain focused on are the potential outcomes. Whether you like them or not is somewhat irrelevant — it is about your response as a leader.

Consider this polarizing question: What will you do if immigration reform goes one way or another? Some business owners will say, “We won’t be impacted, as we only hire legal residents or individuals with work visas.” Some might have a more stern response to the question, potentially jading their thought process. The astute business leader will look at this question — devoid of opinion — and develop scenarios around the impact of costs/benefits related to an influx or decrease in immigrant flow from other countries on wages, overall population, impact to health care and education, etc. If you built in these arenas, there is a cascade effect. For

instance, would an area see an increased or decreased demand in housing, health care or education, thus affecting the competitive landscape?


While the dollar is relatively stable worldwide, there are plenty of countries that experience currency valuation and devaluation on a regular basis.

So what? We live in Anywhere, USA.

Whether we are discussing “local” economic changes, such as the aforementioned interest rates, or, on a global scale, the potential impact of trade routes, trade disputes or even armed conflict near those trade routes, leaders must look at these situations not from the “We can’t have interest rates go up or down,” or “I don’t want to see another item from (insert country here)” viewpoint. Instead, ask these questions: “If interest rates go up, what sectors are most affected and how can we leverage this? Our sector is not adversely affected, so can we use this to recruit talent?” Or, “Our main products are from Asia — how will we either introduce new products or pass on tariffs to clients?”

To be clear, no one has a crystal ball, but great leaders ask “What if?” and then “What is our response?” continued on page 74

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What You Think continued from page 71 MAY, 2024 “BUY FROM THE ADVERTISERS IN CONSTRUCTION OUTLOOK” 73
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Whether we are discussing the broader social climate in the U.S. or even the world, it is easy to get fixated on thoughts and feelings. The social discussion is less about thoughts and feelings on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), but about addressing the impacts. For instance, look at population distributions — whether locally or nationally — what will that do to consumer demand, housing, transportation, etc.? What will the impact be relative to DEI initiatives passing or not passing in respective businesses and locales?

If an area has a focus on DEI — whether it is positive or critical — what will that do to population, education or workforce development? Once again, it is easy to have positive or negative opinions sway a strategic plan. “We need it” or “No way on my watch” are not factual and do not create an appropriate action plan.


To say Pandora’s box is wide open is an understatement. Whether we are thinking about artificial intelligence’s (AI) next move or even how to enter the arena of autonomous equipment, it would be ignorant and malpractice as a leader to discount the next five to 10 years and potential impacts that new innova-



• ¾” & 1½” CRUSHED STONE



tions will have. This is not about what we can use internally, but what it will mean to the greater economy.

To cite an example from the last 20 years, firms actively pursued fiber optic installation nationally to capitalize on the new improvements in data transfer. Great leaders are looking at AI not only in the impacts it could have on their business internally, but also what it means for the tech space, tech clients, etc. When you pull on these threads, they open new considerations. It can be mind boggling, but it also requires some introspection at a strategic level.

Legal & Environmental

In the broader PESTLE model, legal and environmental are two newer considerations that should be considered. Legal changes take many forms, some of which begin as political ideations and end up as business issues. In many cases it will straddle a few areas — consider questions about AI. It is easy to see this in the political, social and technological buckets. How does a company protect itself and its data while still thinking broadly about AI?

Additionally, there is plenty of discussion about environmental considerations. New legislation on the political front will certainly impact new projects, new restrictions/fewer restrictions, etc., but it may continued on page 75




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What You Think continued from page 73

also open new market opportunities. For instance, as firms migrated toward green energy, there were billions of dollars in infrastructure spending for solar, wind and geothermal projects. Were the firms that went into these projects simply opportunistic, or were they proactive in the way they researched the environmental segment?

It is easy to become dismayed or overwhelmed. There are infinite possibilities, so where do we begin to model and develop a business case?

To modify a common phrase, “look globally and act locally.” Begin examining the elements that will affect the business in the short term. Even considering just a few factors leaves the organization better equipped to navigate strategically.

When a firm looks outside its four walls objectively, interesting business cases can be considered. However, with so many opinions about each of the PESTLE areas, it is easy to let judgment be clouded. Strategic thinking must consider these aspects, or you will be left saying, “If only we had thought of that … ”

Reprinted from Construction Business Owner. Written by Gregg M. Schoppman, a partner with FMI Corporation, management consultants and investment bankers for the construction industry. n

What You Think continued from page 74 MAY, 2024 “BUY FROM THE ADVERTISERS IN CONSTRUCTION OUTLOOK” 75
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