Utility & Transportation
Hoffman Equipment: Celebrating A Century Of Success
de i s n
tes bra e l Ce ness h u mn B u s i t i W rs I Yea
CELEBRATING 100 YEARS IN BUSINESS AND
CELEBRATING 45 YEARS IN BUSINESS BEST WISHES FOR CONTINUED SUCCESS! YOUR FRIENDS ATC
& H AGENCY
Exclusively serving contractors' insurance and bonding needs for over 50 years
783 North Riverview Drive• Totowa, New Jersey 07512 P.O. Box 324 • Totowa, New Jersey 07511 PHONE 973.890.0900 • FAX 973.890.9038 • E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
From the desk of: dave smith
elcome to 2020, time to take the deep dive into the challenges and opprortunities it presents.
Labor shortage, I never thought this would come to mind before funding. With the average age of our work force climbing again this year and the lack of young high school and college graduates entering the construction field we are driven to do many things. Technology is great and as we continue to look for ways to perform projects with the assistance of software and apps including virtual reality, 3D imagery and, automation to assist, much more is needed before we simply run out of qualified work forces. These advancements are great as they not only help us perform the work, they also attract the younger generation. This issue is not exclusive to the construction side of the industry. The agencies we work for are having the same issues, attracting new talent is difficult for them too. Making things worse is the limited tools in their war chest to retain such talent and keep them motivated. Ways to retain the most experienced in these agencies must be figured out. Institutional knowledge and simply capable peple that have the desire to get things done are disappearing at an alarming level in the already decimated agencies. We are often critical of the people in the various agencies and holding them accountabe is OK. We need to do more to make sure they actually have that which is needed to perform their work in order for us all to succeed together. Much more focus and action is needed, and our indusrtry recruitment and eductaion efforts need to be doubled down on and further effort and out-reach at the high school level is needed. Funding, this battle is constant and ongoing in both the water/wastewater and transportation sectors! The UTCA is currently involved in a proposal that will impact both sectors regarding the funding for our industry for the next
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10 years. One current update on these initiatives relates to the discussion regarding a possible $500 million Bond referendum that may be considered by the Administration and the Legislature to address the lead drinking water crisis in New Jersey. If the Bond Referendum moves forward, the Adminstration and Legislative Leaders may wish to consider using the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank to leverage the funds in order to generate a greater amount of resources that would be available to fund these projects. Also important is all funding initiatives in the future must include an indexing component in order to allow these programs to adjust and account for inflation. Until funding grows automatically to match the economic needs of our infrastructure our industry will suffer from the use of its funding needs as a politcal football. Previous administrations have held back on opportunities to increase funding to the end of their elected terms or just left that issue to be addressed by the next Adminstraiton. The end result is always the same, too little and too late. The aging infrastructure needs and the rising costs end up outweighing the increased funding. The public optics are that not enough is being accomplished with the increase in user fees. This may result in causing addional resistance from the general public in supporting future increases and making the next effort to do so that much tougher. This why fighting for a CPI on every funding source, current and future, is as important as the funding source itself. This has gone on too long and must change now. Best regards,
Cover story 40 hoffman equipment: celebrating a century of success
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50 withum celebrates 45 years in business
Presidentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;sMessage Financial Overview Legal Dig Accounting Corner Legislative News Safety Perspective Labor Relations The pipeline
NEWS 73 employee benefits trends for 2020 79 is your company in compliance with all lead federal 83
& State codes trif law celebrates its inaugural year
Published Bimonthly During 2020
1670 Route 34 North Farmingdale, NJ 07727 PO Box 728 Allenwood, NJ 08720 PH: (732) 292-4300 FAX: (732) 292-4310 www.utcanj.org
Publisher: Robert A. Briant, Jr. Editor: Helene Nasdeo Editorial Contributors: Dan Kennedy, Zoe Baldwin, Dan Neville Advertising Manager: Helene Nasdeo Photographer: Image Up Cover Photo: Image Up Production/Graphics: Helene Nasdeo Circulation: Helene Nasdeo Printed By: American Plus Printers Affiliations: ARTBA, Clean Water Construction Coalition, Water Infrastructure Network UTILITY AND TRANSPORTATION CONTRACTOR (ISSN 0192-4843) is published six times a year by the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association of New Jersey, 1670 Highway 34 North, Farmingdale, NJ 07727. Periodical postage paid at Farmingdale, NJ and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to UTILITY AND TRANSPORTATION CONTRACTOR, PO Box 728, Allenwood, NJ 08720.
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To Tim Watters and the entire Hoffman Team on 100 Years in Business TAYLOR OIL CO.
"Fueling Americaï¿½ Progress!" Somerville, NJ Bellmawr, NJ Lakewood, NJ Philadelphia/Harrisburg, PA Delaware Baltimore, MD Boston, MA Portland, CT Providence, RI Northern VA
908-725-9200 856-262-3133 877-240-5588 800-543-3835 800-543-3835 410-636-9000 800-894-3835 860-342-2122 401-431-5060 410-636-9000
By: Michael meyers, partner, mountain hill investment partners
rom the Department of Labor website: Plan sponsors and other fiduciaries have a solemn responsibility to protect the interests of the workers and retirees in their benefit plans. That’s a pretty broad definition. There are specifics of course, but still, what does this really mean? If you’re reading this, you should know you’re a fiduciary, but what’s next? How can you improve, and where is regulation potentially going in the future? Facts: Employees are saving a higher percentage of their compensation than ever in their 401ks, and a growing number are taking advantage of the opportunity to save in a Roth 401k option. According to new data from the Plan Sponsor of America (PSCA), part of the American Retirement Association (ARA), plan participant deferrals rose in 2018 to an average of 7.7% of pay, up from 7.1% in 2017 and 6.8% in 2016. PSCA’s “62nd Annual Survey of Profit Sharing and 401k Plans” also found company contributions coming in at an average of 5.2% in 2018, raising the average combined savings rate to 12.9%, up from the previous year’s record finding of a combined savings rate of 12.2%. Furthermore, the survey found that nearly a quarter of participants (23%) elected to contribute to a Roth when given the opportunity, up from 19.5% in 2017 and 18.1% in 2016—a 30% increase in just three years! The Puck is Moving: This is good news, but shouldn’t come as a surprise. Companies have long been moving away from pension plans, and many of those that still exist are underfunded or on the brink of failure. So, in the words of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” You’ve provided the plan; the fiduciary duties have been handled, but there’s more to be done. If you’ve been paying attention, it should be clear that regulations won’t be relaxed. As a 401(K)-plan advisor, I see the DOL “puck” going to employee education and financial well-being, e.g., making sure that employees have the tools to make the most of their retirement plan. According to ENR’s recent article in the December 2019 issue, “AGC Contractors Expect Demand To Increase in 2020, Still Worry About Labor Shortage,” “Three out of four contractors surveyed plan to bolster their company's head count in 2020.” If you want to be completive in the hiring landscape, a 401(K) coupled with a robust education and support system is imperative!
Think of 401(K) employee education like you might think of safety training. You can provide workers with all the appropriate tools to be safe, but without education and reinforcement, you won’t foster a safe culture and accidents will happen. Along the same line, simply providing employees with a great 401(K) doesn’t mean they’ll experience great outcomes. In large part, employees who are offered a 401(K) know how they work and why they’re important (the deferral data certainly suggests that), but they require education and advice to make decisions that will provide a roadmap for a financially healthy retirement. In my view, positive outcomes for employees’ 401(K)s begin with an education program coupled with unbiased, one-on-one advice from a financial advisor. Participants have several decisions to make in the 401(K): How much should they defer into the plan? Should they contribute to the traditional 401K, Roth 401K, or both? And what investment options should they select? These decisions are not easy for employees, and employers are not equipped to answer them, nor should they. They require careful consideration and the help of an advisor who offers individual support. For one on-one-advice and support to be meaningful, advisors should be asking your employees questions like:
your 401k is powerful equipment! train employees to use it safely
• Do they have enough savings accessible to them to cover emergencies? • If they are married, does their spouse work and contribute to a retirement plan? • Do they have any debt? • What is their risk profile? • Do they understand the investment options offered to them? The answers to these questions give the advisor a blueprint to provide the appropriate advice for that individual. For example, giving advice to an employee that they should max out their contributions to the plan without knowing that they have little to no savings to cover unforeseen expenses would be inappropriate. That employee should be building an emergency fund and revisiting 401(K) contributions later. It seems counterintuitive for an advisor to suggest that an employee NOT contribute to the plan, but sometimes it’s the right thing to do in order to improve their overall situation. To address this, I recommend that plan sponsors coordinate semi-annual group employee meetings (mandatory), arranged in conjunction with the plan advisor, followed by availability for individual one-on-one meetings. Advisors should be available to employees on an ongoing basis, but in my expe-
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rience, engagement is higher when group meetings are part of the process. But getting back to the data from Plan Sponsor of America, what can you do with the knowledge that savings rates in 401(K) plans are increasing? You can start by giving employees the tools to make sure their hard-earned dollars are being productive for them. The most common error I see employees make in their 401(K) is within their asset allocation, i.e., how much risk they’re taking. For example, target date funds are a great solution for participants in 401(K) plans when used properly. These are the funds in your 401(K) with a year at the end of the name such as the Vanguard Target Retirement 2035, which would be utilized by someone expecting to retire in 2035. Regardless of the year of the fund we’re discussing, they all begin their lifecycle more heavily weighted to risk assets like stocks with smaller exposure to safer assets like bonds. Over the course of time, the fund gradually reduces risk for the investor automatically. The exact methodology varies from different fund companies, but for someone in the Vanguard Target Retirement 2050 right now, they have approximately 90% of their assets invested in stocks, whereby someone in the Vanguard Target Retirement 2020 today has approximately 50% invested in stocks, which is significantly less risk. These options are great for participants who are comfortable with the level of risk that their age suggests and who prefer their assets be managed for them. Target date funds are intended to be an all-in-one portfolio; however, many investors don't use them that way. They mix them with other funds, and this skews the intended allocation. The most likely reason investors supplement target-date funds with other funds, in my view, is that they don’t understand they’re supposed to be held alone; they haven’t been educated. Although it's a fully diversified portfolio, it might feel to an investor like they’re putting all their eggs in one basket.
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For some participants, target-date funds appear to be a “black box”—the lack of understanding exactly how the product works, how it is allocated, and so on, can lead those participants to combine it with other investments on the core menu. Educating employees as to how these investments are structured can go a long way to ensuring they’re used properly. And although investments are an important piece of the 401(K), there’s many other topics to include in your education initiative such as: • How to balance saving for retirement with today’s financial needs. • Contributing to a traditional 401(K), Roth 401(K), or both. • For those not in a position to save for retirement, how they can get there. And for larger companies, consider different group meetings for different age groups. The message to someone retiring in 2-5 years is much different than someone retiring in 30 years. As an advisor and fiduciary to corporate 401(K) plans, my firm builds education programs designed to engage employees and provide them with the knowledge to create positive outcomes in their financial lives. Employees are counting on your firm’s 401(K) plan to provide for them in retirement; be sure they have the tools and knowledge to use this equipment safely. Call me at (732) 291-3338 for more information or to schedule a plan review. Disclaimer: Mountain Hill Investment Partners is an SEC Registered Investment Adviser. We have a clearing and custody relationship with Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE/SIPC.
By: adrienne l. isacoff, florio, perrucci, steinhardt & cappelli
embers of the Association often perform work on commercial and residential projects, as well as on public jobs, and also often work both in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It is important to know some of the significant differences between the statutes governing lien law in both states since they vary greatly. WRITTEN CONTRACT REQUIREMENT In New Jersey, in order to be entitled to file a lien claim, both contractors and subcontractors of any tier, including suppliers, must have a written contract or purchase order. In the case of suppliers, the law defines “contract” as including a delivery or order slip referring to the site or project to which the materials have been delivered, or where they were used and signed by the party against whom the lien claim is asserted. Importantly, the writing requirement also applies to any change orders. Often a lien claimant may be able to file a lien claim for the amount due on the base contract, but not be able to include the unpaid balance of any unsigned change orders. You can still seek payment for that work in a subsequent lawsuit if the circumstances support a claim for extras that were not included in change orders. While having a signed contract is always the best practice, in Pennsylvania, it is not a precondition to being able to file a lien claim. This may be particularly helpful with regard to claiming for extras that were not signed off on in a change order. TIME TO FILE LIEN CLAIMS
In New Jersey, neither contractors nor subcontractors need to provide a pre-lien notice on commercial projects. For commercial projects, a lien must be filed with the County Clerk in the same county in which the project was located within 90 days from the last date of work. The lien must also be served on the owner and, if you are a subcontractor, on the general contractor, as well. In New Jersey, for residential projects, both contractors and subcontractors must file and serve a pre-lien notice called a “Notice of Unpaid Balance” within 60 days of the last date of work. At the same time, you must file a Demand for Arbitration, typically with the American Arbitration Association. The arbitrator will decide whether the lien claimant has met all the procedural requirements that allow the lien claimant to file a lien. If the arbitrator finds that the lien claim may be filed, the award will also stipulate the amount of the lien that may be filed. The filing must
take place no later than 120 days from the last date of work. Note that these additional rules apply to large-scale residential projects, such as townhome developments, and to site work, as well as interior work. In Pennsylvania, although a contractor does not need to file a pre-lien notice, a subcontractor is required to give formal written notice to the owner 30 days prior to filing a construction lien claim. In order to perfect the lien claim, the claimant must file the claim with the Clerk of the Court within 6 months after the last date of work – not from the date that the notice was provided. To be safe, a subcontractor should subtract at least 5 weeks (i.e., the 30-day advance period plus a few days to be safe) from the 6-month period following completion of the lien claimant’s work to calendar when a lien claim must be filed. The lien claimant must then serve written notice upon the owner within one month after the filing. An Affidavit of Service must be filed within 20 days after services upon the owner.
filing residential and commercial lien claims in new jersey and pennsylvania
SUITS TO ENFORCE LIEN CLAIMS Both in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, a lien claim is not a judgment. A lien claimant cannot take affirmative action to enforce the claim, such as executing upon it and scheduling a sheriff ’s sale of the liened property. To be able to do that, the lien claimant must obtain a judgment upon the lien claim. An action to enforce the lien claim in New Jersey must be filed in court within one year from the last date of work. Be careful to keep that date in mind. The clock for the enforcement action, which may entitle the lien claimant to a judgment against the owner of the property, begins to run from the last date of work – not the date that the lien was filed, whether on a commercial or a residential project. Even if the lien was properly filed, it takes an affirmative step to file the lawsuit, and your lien rights can be lost unless the complaint is filed timely in court. In Pennsylvania, the lien expires after two years unless the lien claimant files a civil action to enforce the lien claim. TAKEAWAY Know the basic procedural requirements in the state in which you are performing work. Private jobs have different requirements from public jobs, and each state has its own mechanisms. Learn some of the important elements now, before you may need to file the claim.
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tax planning for business: what you need to know for 2020 By: Salvatore schibell, lawson, rescinio, schibell & associates
Following the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December 2017 (TCJA), which was the most significant set of changes to the U.S. tax code in 30 years, 2019 is a relatively stable year for tax changes. The large majority of the TCJA changes went into effect for the 2018 tax year. To recap, the TCJA legislation cut the top corporate tax rate to 21%, lowered the top marginal rate for individual taxpayers to 37%, eliminated or scaled back several deductions, reduced taxes on business income earned by passthrough businesses, doubled the estate tax exemption, and enhanced immediate expensing of capital investments. Apart from these changes introduced in 2018, here are some 2019 highlights: Individual Highlight There continue to be seven tax brackets in 2019; a change from five was made in 2018. For individuals, the top tax rate of 37% applies to those with taxable income of $510,301 in 2019, up from $500,001 in 2018, to $612,351 in 2019, up from $600,001 in 2018. Standard deduction for heads of household will increase by $350 to $18,350 in 2019. Estates will have an exemption of $11,400,000 in 2019, up $220,000 from 2018. In 2019, the maximum amount workers can contribute to their 401(k) rose $500 from 2018. The amount is $19,000 ($25,000 for workers over age 50 in 2019). IRA amounts rose $500 to $6,000 ($7,000 for those over age 50). Given the changing nature of tax law and the complexity of our tax rules, planning is essential. The purpose of this article is to provide the reader with a broad overview of important tax issues affecting businesses in a manner not too overburdened with the details of the law. Section 199A Business Deduction The new Section 199A permits individuals, trusts, and estates to deduct up to 20% of their “qualified business income” from a partnership, S corporation, or sole proprietorship (including disregarded entity) as well as some other pass-through entities. For each qualified trade or business, the 20% deduction cannot exceed the greater of (a) 50% of the W2 wages paid by the qualified business, or (b) 25% of wages paid and 2.5% of the unadjusted basis immediately after acquisition of the qualified property of the business. Qualified property is generally depreciable tangible property held by a qualified trade or business or used in the production of qualified business income and for which the
depreciation period has not expired (or in the case of short lived property, before the 10-year anniversary of its being first placed in service by the taxpayer). Further, the deduction is limited for any “specified service business” or any trade or business of performing services as an employee. A specified service business generally is any business involving the performance of services in the fields of health, law, accounting, actuarial sciences, performing arts, consulting, athletics, financial services, brokerage services, or where the principal asset of such trade or business is the reputation or skill of one or more employees or owners. Only income that is considered effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business within the United States is eligible to be treated as qualified business income. Capital gain or loss items, dividends, interest, and certain other investment type items are also excluded from the definition of qualified business income. For service businesses, the determination for the 20% deduction is made by taking into consideration the taxable income limits of the individual owner. New Limitation on Excess Business Losses
The Current Tax Climate
Noncorporate Taxpayers and Individuals For tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2025, the Act provides that a noncorporate taxpayer's "excess business loss" is disallowed. Under the new rule, excess business losses are not allowed for the tax year but are instead carried forward and treated as part of the taxpayer's net operating loss (NOL) carryforward in subsequent tax years. An excess business loss for the tax year is the excess of aggregate deductions of the taxpayer attributable to the taxpayer's trades and businesses over a threshold amount. The threshold amount for a tax year is $510,000 for married individuals filing jointly and $255,000 for other individuals with both amounts indexed for inflation; e.g. if the combined business losses for a year exceed $510,000 relating to married individual filings, the excess will be carried forward to future tax years and applied against business income. In the case of a partnership or S corporation, the provision applies at the partner or shareholder level. Benefiting from Business Losses If your business has suffered losses, make sure you take advantage of every allowable deduction. Net operating losses (NOLs) are generated when a company’s deductions for the tax year are more than its income. Under old law, NOLs could be carried
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back two years to obtain a refund and then carried forward for up to 20 years, or you could elect out of the carryback. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, carrybacks of NOLs are no longer allowed, but an indefinite carryforward of NOLs is allowed. The new tax law also sets a limit on the amount of NOLs that a company can deduct in a year equal to the lesser of the available NOL carryover or 80% of a taxpayers’ pre-NOL deduction taxable income. Corporate capital losses (C Corp) are also currently deductible, but only to the extent of capital gains. A three-year carryback and a five-year carryforward period apply. If your business operates as a partnership, S corporation, or LLC, you may deduct business losses on your personal tax return. Losses may be limited because of the at-risk or passive activity loss rules. Keep in mind that you can only deduct your share of losses to the extent that you have sufficient income tax basis for your investment. Also, take advantage of other possible loss deductions. You may deduct all or some bad business debts as ordinary losses when your good-faith collection efforts are unsuccessful. Inventory losses, casualty and theft losses (to the extent they are not covered by insurance), and losses from a sale of business assets may also be deductible. Enhanced Business Asset Expensing Rules Increased Code Section 179 (Expensing business acquisition write-off)
in a trade or business to qualify for the write-off. Bonus depreciation phases down commencing after December 31, 2022 and sunsetting after 2026. Bonus depreciation, as prior law allowed, may not be used to expense qualified nonresidential real property formerly defined as qualified leasehold improvement property, qualified restaurant property, and qualified retail improvement property. Luxury Automobile Depreciation Limits Increased For passenger automobiles placed in service after December 31, 2017, in tax years ending after that date, for which the additional first-year depreciation deduction is not claimed, the maximum amount of allowable depreciation is increased to $10,100 for the year in which the vehicle is placed in service, $16,100 for the second year, $9,700 for the third year, and $5,760 for the fourth and later years in the recovery period. For passenger automobiles placed in service after 2019, these dollar limits are indexed for inflation. For passenger autos eligible for bonus first-year depreciation, the maximum first-year depreciation allowance relating to the Bonus depreciation element remains at $8,000, resulting in an increase from $10,100 to $18,100 for first-year depreciation. In addition, computer or peripheral equipment is removed from the definition of listed property, and so isn't subject to the heightened substantiation requirements that apply to listed property.
For property placed in service in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, the maximum amount a taxpayer may expense under (Code Sec. 179) is increased to $1.2 million for 2019, and the investment phase-out threshold amount is increased to $2.55 million for assets acquired in excess of this amount. For tax years beginning after 2019, these amounts (as well as the $25,000 sport utility vehicle limitation) are indexed for inflation. Qualified Real Property The definition of (Code Sec. 179) property is expanded to include certain depreciable tangible personal property used predominantly to furnish lodging or in connection with furnishing lodging. The definition of qualified real property eligible for (Code Sec. 179) expensing is also expanded to include the following improvements to nonresidential real property after the date such property was first placed in service: roofs, heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning property; fire protection and alarm systems; and security systems and including, as in prior law, leasehold improvements. Section 179 property generally is new or used tangible personal property plus qualified real property. 100% Cost Recovery of Qualifying Business Assets (Bonus Depreciation) Under the new law, 100% first-year deduction for the adjusted basis is allowed for qualified property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017 and before January 1, 2023. The additional first-year depreciation deduction is allowed for new and used property. Note prior to the law change Bonus Depreciation was only applied to new property acquisitions. Qualified property is basically defined the same as Code Section 179 property as explained above. Bonus depreciation may be used for assets that are not considered used in a trade or business, (i.e., real estate), as opposed to Section 179 assets that must be used
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Limits on Deduction of Business Interest For tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, every business, regardless of its form, is generally subject to a disallowance of a deduction for net interest expense in excess of 30% of the business's adjusted taxable income. The net interest expense disallowance is determined at the tax filer level. However, a special rule applies to pass-through entitles, which requires the determination to be made at the entity level, for example, at the partnership level instead of the partner level. For tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2022, adjusted taxable income is computed without regard to deductions allowable for depreciation, amortization, or depletion and without the former Code Sec. 199 deduction (which is repealed effective December 31, 2017). An exemption from these rules applies for taxpayers (other than tax shelters) with average annual gross receipts for the three-tax year period ending with the prior taxable year that do not exceed
$25 million. Real property trades or businesses can elect out of the provision if they use the ADS depreciation convention to depreciate applicable real property used in a trade or business. An exception from the limitation on the business interest deduction is also provided for floor plan financing (i.e., financing for the acquisition of motor vehicles, boats, or farm machinery for sale or lease and secured by such inventory). Tax Accounting Issues Taxable Year of Inclusion
The Act also codifies the current deferral method of accounting for advance payments for goods and services to allow taxpayers to defer the inclusion of income associated with certain advance payments to the end of the tax year following the tax year of receipt if such income is also deferred for financial statement purposes. Cash Method of Accounting For tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, the cash method may be used by taxpayers (other than tax shelters) that satisfy a $25 million gross receipts test, regardless of whether the purchase, production, or sale of merchandise is an income-producing factor. Under the gross receipts test, taxpayers with annual average gross receipts that do not exceed $25 million (indexed for inflation for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2018) for the three prior tax years can use the cash method. Qualified personal service corporations, partnerships without C corporation partners, S corporations, and other pass-through entities can use the cash method without regard to whether they meet the $25 million gross receipts test, so long as the use of the method clearly reflects income. Accounting for Inventories For tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, taxpayers that meet the $25 million gross receipts can account for inventories by either (1) treating inventories as non-ÂŹincidental materials and supplies, or (2) conforming to the taxpayer's financial accounting treatment of inventories. Treating inventories as non-incidental materials requires capitalizing the inventory items, materials, and expensing the costs when the items are used or sold. Capitalization and Inclusion of Certain Expenses in Inventory For tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, any producer or re-seller that meets the $25 million gross receipts test is exempted from the application of Uniform Capitalization rules (UNCAP), capitalizing general and administrative expenses into inventory. The exemptions from the UNCAP rules that are not based on a taxpayer's gross receipts are retained.
For contracts entered into after December 31, 2017, in tax years ending after that date, the exception for small construction contracts from the requirement to use the Percentage of Completion Method of revenue recognition (PCM) is expanded to apply to contracts for the construction or improvement of real property if the contract: (1) is expected (at the time such contract is entered into) to be completed within two years of commencement of the contract and (2) is performed by a taxpayer who (for the tax year in which the contract was entered into) meets the $25 million gross receipts test. Cost Segregation Studies Capital cost segregation is a comprehensive study of real property to maximize allowable tax depreciation through faster cost recovery. Generally, real estate improvements must be depreciated over 27.5 or 39 years using a straight-line method. A cost segregation analysis identifies property components and related costs that Federal tax law allows to be depreciated over five or seven years using 200% of the straight-line rate or over fifteen years using 150% of the straight-line rate. Under these rules, it is possible to increase your allowable first-year depreciation tenfold. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 expanded the ability to expense qualifying property immediately. Qualifying assets placed in service between September 27, 2017 and December 31, 2022 are eligible for immediate expensing. After 2022, the deduction phases out by 20% each year. Examples of assets that may need proper classification include landscaping, site fencing, parking lots, decorative fixtures, cabinets, and security equipment. NOTE: The rules differ for certain property types, and not all states follow Federal depreciation rules. Businesses subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) may derive less benefit from cost segregation.
Generally, for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, a taxpayer is required to recognize income no later than the tax year in which such income is considered as income on an applicable financial statement (AFS) or another financial statement under rules specified by the IRS [subject to an exception for long-term contract income under (Code Sec. 460)].
Accounting for Long-Term Contracts
Deductions for Meals, Entertainment, and Transportation Costs The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 has changed the way businesses handle meals, entertainment and transportation expenses from a tax perspective. Meals Meal expenses associated with operating a business, including meals during employee travel, remain deductible subject to the 50 percent limitation. The cost of a client dinner, as long as it is not extravagant, is still allowed under the 50 percent deduction rule. Documentation of the business purpose of the meal is necessary for deductibility. The recently changed tax law extends the 50 percent deduction limit to employer-operated eating facilities through 2025. After 2025, employer-operated eating facilities become non-deductible. Entertainment The law eliminates deductions for entertainment even if it is directly related to the conduct of business.
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Transportation The recent tax law changes also eliminated deductions for qualified transportation fringe benefits and certain expenses to provide commuting transportation to employees. The cost of providing employees’ transit passes or parking is no longer allowed as a deduction to the employer. In addition, the costs associated with providing transportation for an employee’s commute to work are not deductible unless necessary to ensure an employee’s safety. Business-related travel expenses are still deductible under the new law. This includes business travel between job sites, travel to a temporary assignment (generally one year or less) that is outside your general area of residence, travel between primary and secondary jobs, and all other cab, bus, train, airline, and automobile expenses. Any regular commuting expenses to your primary job cannot be deducted. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed the deductibility of unreimbursed employee expenses. Previously, if a taxpayer incurred business travel expenses that the company did not reimburse, they could deduct these on their individual income tax return (subject to limitations), but under the recent law changes this is no longer allowed.
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Substantiation To support business travel deductions, keep supporting documents for expenses. Document the following: date, place, amount, and business purpose of expenditures; name and business affiliation or business purpose of trip; and in the case of meals, all of the above must directly precede or follow a substantial business discussion associated with your business. Be sure to keep personal expenses separate from business expenses. Expense reimbursement plans Companies may institute “accountable” or “nonaccountable” expense reimbursement plans. Generally, accountable plans better serve both the employer and employee. Under accountable plans, employees submit mileage logs or actual expense receipts for which they are reimbursed at the standard mileage rate or for actual expenses. The company deducts the reimbursements in full, and employees do not report them as income or deduct related expenses. The full-text article can be found at https://bit.ly/2NRb1TW About the Author . . .Salvatore Schibell, CPA, CFP®, MS Taxation, MBA, CGMA, is the tax partner at Lawson, Rescinio, Schibell & Associates, P.C. One of his specialties is working with contractors to maximize profitability utilizing his vast experience and educational skills. Sal can be contacted at 732-539-7328.
in the lobby By: zoe baldwin
WORST THINGS FIRST Top of the list for UTCA members is the apprenticeship bill that clarifies completion rate requirements for apprenticeship programs and institutes severe penalties for any mistakes made on the public works contractor registration form. The legislation, now on the Governor’s desk, stipulates that “Any person who makes or causes to be made, a false, deceptive or fraudulent statement on the public works contractor registration form shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall, upon conviction, be subject to punishment by a fine of no more than $1,000.00, and permanent disqualification from bidding on all public work or contracts.” The Governor is expected to sign the legislation as-is. UTCA will participate in the development of regulations and will keep you updated as the matter progresses. Another bill sent to the Governor’s desk concerns responsibility of contractors for wage claims against subcontractors. This bill would hold non-union prime contractors legally responsible for wage violations of not just subcontractors, but every sub-sub and below. We requested amendments two years ago when it advanced in the Senate and submitted our opposition again in lame duck. UTCA argued that it would be much more logical administratively and legally to require that every contractor and subcontractor be held liable only for the subcontractors with whom they contract directly. This would still create a second-tier responsible party in every instance thus ensuring this bill’s intended level of contractor accountability but would do so in a more direct manner without fundamentally changing the nature of bidding and liability. The legislature did not concede to our request and the bill is expected to be signed into law. On a positive note, Senator Lagana agreed to amendments on legislation that originally would have allowed the Commissioner of Labor to access contractors’ tax records without cause, for the purpose of research, or assisting in investigations pursuant to any state wage, benefit, and tax law. UTCA requested and secured clarifying language that consigns this information sharing
to “labor market research,” removing any ambiguity of intent. This legislation is also on the governor’s desk awaiting signature. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK Despite the legislative overreach described above, there were some smaller, positive measures that passed during the final frenzy. First was a bill addressing property access. As many contractors know, it's not just the price tag that presents a challenge to eliminating the toxic components in our drinking water systems. Pipe replacement efforts have been hampered by a host of issues, not the least of which have been unreachable landlords or property owners unwilling to allow access to their property. Legislation now on the Governor’s desk will enable municipalities to pass an ordinance that allows officials or their designees (i.e. contractors) to enter private property and replace lead service lines even without permission, as long as residents are notified at least 24 hours in advance. This will make it easier for contractors to plan and execute lead service line replacements, especially in communities with a high population of renters. Another measure sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal imposes motor vehicle penalty points for certain violations of move over law and establishes a public awareness campaign. Under the current “move over law,” motor vehicle operators are required to reduce the speed of their vehicles and change lanes when approaching an authorized emergency vehicle; tow truck; or highway maintenance, emergency service, or sanitation vehicle that is displaying flashing, blinking, or alternating emergency lights. The amended bill, designated as the “Slow Down or Move Over, It’s the Law Act,” increases fines for violations and imposes two motor vehicle penalty points for a third or subsequent offense.
he 218th Legislative Session officially came to a close in early January, marking the end of a contentious and hurried lame duck session. At the time of this writing, Governor Murphy has signed 55 new laws, vetoed two, and still has another 100 to consider enacting before the window closes. Relevant to our industry, there was action on a host of labor and environmental issues in addition to safety and soil legislation.
Finally, despite some challenges this session, UTCA was able to pass four bills in 2019. First passed was legislation to make the Local Aid program more efficient, and it has already made a visible difference in the timing and rollout of the critical NJDOT program. Next was an effort that started with a request from NJDOL in 2017 that requires all contractors on prevailing wage jobs be required to obtain public works contractor registration. Last but not least, two bills initiated by UTCA CEO Bob Briant, Jr. were passed during lame duck, both of which expand the NJ Infrastructure Bank’s access to federal WIFIA and TIFIA funds for water and transportation projects.
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WHAT THEY DIDN’T DO The lame duck session also saw several initiatives stall, including independent contractor reform and an expansion of project labor agreements, and the legalization of marijuana has been pushed to voters for a decision, with a ballot question on the ballot in November 2020.
We expect several of our platform goals to be met through this effort, as Association staff has been in the weeds on water policy for the past several years promoting policies that will ensure that our rate payer dollars are being reinvested back into our drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.
No Longer as Easy as ABC: Although the Legislature sent Murphy a flurry of bills meant to fight worker misclassification, they were unsuccessful in passing one measure that would have reclassified tens of thousands of freelance workers as regular employees. Proponents argue that regular employees are often improperly classified by business owners as independent contractors so employers can avoid employment taxes and other worker protections. But many independent contractors and freelancers objected to the bill, worried that it would force them out of their positions and into inflexible and potentially lower-paying jobs. The bill stalled in January but is expected to be revisited in the current session. UTCA has weighed in on behalf of contractors and will keep you updated as it progresses.
Pivoting to NJ Transit, February will see the last two hearings of the special committee charged with examining the agency, the next of which features UTCA Bob Briant, Jr. as an invited speaker. Bob will be focusing on the capital to operating transfer, and more broadly, Transit’s opaque use of capital funds; the need for more staff, specifically in capital programming; and other barriers to the agency’s ability to maintain a reliable and robust capital program. Senator Sweeney is chairing the special committee and has stated that he intends to announce a transit operations payfor once hearings are complete. While there is no real detail yet, this could be good news for our industry, which has long protested the agency’s escalating capital-to-operating transfers.
Taking the Agreement out of Project Labor Agreements: Legislation that will extend PLAs on public work was introduced in both houses at the start of lame duck but failed to advance fully in either chamber. Specifically, the legislation removes from the definition of “public works project” all references to the kind of structure or improvement, instead identifying a project only as “construction, reconstruction, demolition or renovation.” That change extends the option of using a PLA to projects excluded under the current law, such as highways, bridges, pumping stations, and water and sewage treatment plants. The bill leaves unchanged the provisions of the law’s definition of a public works project that require a project to be worth at least $5 million in order to trigger the PLA requirement. Through VoterVoice, UTCA reached out to our membership for help in reaching state legislators directly and received a great response. Thank you to everyone who lent their voice to this important effort. UTCA has weighed in with the sponsors and legislative leadership and will keep you informed as the discussion continues. WATER’S UP, TRANSIT ON DECK, PROCUREMENT IN THE HOLE On January 27, the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee will be holding their first meeting in follow up to the Water Quality Accountability Act (WAQAA) hearings held last year. While the agenda has not yet been released, Chairman Troy Singleton has directly stated his interest in expanding asset management plan requirements to wastewater and stormwater, which would be a great win right out of the UTCA policy platform. Governor Murphy also highlighted lead in the annual State of the State address, applauding Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo for their partnership to fast-track the elimination of lead service lines in the City and pledging to mobilize an army of workers to remediate lead statewide. This is a good indication that he will be supportive of the legislative output from the WQAA hearings.
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FORESIGHT IS 2020 Aside from our water platform policies, UTCA will be working this year to pass several pieces of proactive legislation that deal with procurement issues. First is a bill that addresses an obstacle to municipal access to NJDOT Local Aid program funds that are procured through the Infrastructure Bank. Currently, an oversight in municipal bond law requires a 5% payment from communities seeking to use I-Bank transportation funds that is not required for their water program. While it may seem small, 5% can be a challenge for cash-strapped towns. Introduced by Senator Gopal, S767 removes the unnecessary surcharge and will make it easier to get Local Aid funds programmed and out on the street. Early this year, we will also be introducing legislation that helps standardize specifications and clean up certain parts of local public contracts law. This has been a major initiative for the industry spearheaded by UTCA in partnership with the Municipal Engineers, the League of Municipalities, and the Association of Counties. We are just finalizing some of the consensus proposals including standard bid packages and bid submissions, curable financial statements, and stockholder certifications. We will keep you updated as that conversation progresses. UTCA will also be reinvigorating negotiations on design-build legislation that stalled during the last session. Senate Transportation Chairman Patrick Diegnan and NJDOT Commissioner Diane Scaccetti have both expressed interest in passing the new procurement tool, and renewed movement is expected as the state continues to look for ways to maximize the impact of every transportation dollar. These efforts will be a major focus for 2020 and we look forward to getting some positive, proactive legislative moving for the industry.
want better outcomes? try servant leadership
By: david sarkus, MS, CSP, David sarkus international, inc.
wenty-five years ago, as a young safety professional, I struggled to find a set of leadership practices I could call my own. In 1996, I wrote about many of the leadership practices I was already using but found more clearly established in Servant Leadership (Sarkus, 1996). Since then, I’ve helped my clients’ leaders better understand and use servant leadership as a powerful base of influence, and some of the results have been nothing short of remarkable.
Servant leaders and trust Engaged workers are formed when supervisors are credible (having both expertise and trustworthiness). Workers commit to their supervisor and their goals because that supervisor is well liked, respected, and credible. In terms of influence, individuals tend to work in safer ways to maintain a positive relationship with a leader who cares about them and has high expectations for safety. As we know, relationships do matter, and the servant leader has a strong desire to care for his workers’ safety above his personal needs. Uniquely, the servant leader understands the ethical dimensions that relate to his role as a leader, which in turn guides his intentions and actions to care for his workers, even when production challenges may compromise worker safety. Credibility, or even trust alone, leads to broader forms of positive organizational change. Self and Collective-Efficacy When trust is nurtured, servant leaders don’t continue to rely exclusively on their own power and influence, but desire to give it away to empower others. I continue to see more organizational leaders create better and safer workplaces by increasing workers’ self-competence and confidence (their self-efficacy). These same leaders help to empower their workers as peer-leaders. These champions for safety positively influence the attitudes and actions of their co-workers. Overall, improvements in individual and collective efficacy lead to a greater shared commitment to the mission of a given group, and in our case, getting the job done safely, efficiently, and effectively. Servant leaders create more servant leaders and a larger sphere of influence for safety beyond what any one leader can do alone.
How do things change even more? Well, the worker’s perception of what’s going around him becomes more positive — that’s the climate for safety. Workers like what they see. There’s a good overall view about how people are treated, and workers appreciate leaders who treat them fairly. Regarding safety-related discipline, there’s a deliberate intention to apply fairness which translates into greater employee safety engagement and ownership. It also leads to more openness in communications within work groups and increased reporting of near-misses largely because the fear of punishment and harmful peer pressure is appropriately diminished — first through the servant leader and then through their workers. When leaders serve first, I’ve seen greater forms of empowerment, ownership, and a sense of community in which nearly everyone looks out for their co-worker’s safety. Can you see the progression? The servant leader has a strong desire to care for others and their safety. This in turn builds greater forms of trust as the servant leader persuades and gives away more power, creating more servant leaders. The effect now becomes broader and wider, shaping a more open and positive climate for safety and a greater sense of community and ownership (Walumbwa, Hartnell & Oke, 2010). Servant leadership and servant leaders aren’t about making everyone happy. Servant leaders are about possessing and sharing a personal vision for the critical importance of safety because they’re concerned about every individual, especially their safety, and have a parallel concern for productivity. “Good leaders must first become good servants… and for something great to happen, there must be a great dream. Behind every great achievement is a dreamer of great dreams. Much more than a dreamer is required to bring it to reality; but the dream must be there first.” — Robert K. Greenleaf
Generally, servant leaders look out for others before taking care of their own needs. They typically place their agenda aside – they’re not self-serving. They principally choose to serve others through a vision for safety, listening, empathy, persuasion, and the empowerment of others. The selfless dimension of servant leaders helps them to better influence the safety-related attitudes and actions of their followers because they aren’t manipulative. Trust is critically important to the servant leader, particularly at the worker-level, and evolves into greater efficiencies and an improved safety climate (Goh & Low, 2014).
Climate for safety
I’ve always had a great dream for safety. How about you? References • Goh, S.K. & Low, Z.J. (2014). The influence of servant leadership towards organizational commitment: the mediating role of trust in leaders. International Journal of Business and Management, Vol. 9, No. 1, 17—26. • Sarkus, D.J. (1996) Servant leadership in safety: advancing the cause and practice. Professional Safety, 41(6), 26-32. • Walumbwa, C.A., Hartnell, C.A. and Oke, A. (2010). Servant leadership, procedural justice climate, service climate, employee attitudes, and organizational citizenship behavior: a cross—level investigation. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 95, No. 3, 517—529.
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Hoffman equipment: celebrating a century of success By: zoe baldwin
lot can happen in a century, just ask Hoffman Equipment, whose history of success now spans a full century across several specialties. From the Great Depression to the Great Recession and every up and down in between, Hoffman has truly proven their mettle as a firm that’s built to last. Walking into the Piscataway Headquarters for Hoffman Equipment, there is an almost tangible hum and bustle to their operations, even during the bleak days of December when we sat with President & CEO, Tim Watters to hear about their past hundred years of cranes, construction, and growth. In his office is a stunning large-scale ink drawing depicting a vivid port scene from the early 20th century; on the adjacent wall is an antique sepia photograph of two of Tim’s ancestors standing in front of a horse-drawn milk wagon. Both images pay homage to Hoffman’s earlier days and offer a nice vignette into the firm’s rich history. “So, my grandfather Harry and his brother William – everyone called him Winks – started out in the roofing business, but actually ended up automating it,” Tim starts. “You see, they came back home after being introduced to trucks in World War 1, and now, you’ve got to go back in time,” he pauses and points to the photograph of the horse drawn milk cart. “All the other roofers are running around with horses and buggies, so they buy a truck. Then the other roofers start calling up to see if they would deliver materials, so overnight their roofing business turned into
In the early days of containerization, Hoffman’s crane fleet loaded most of the freight in and out of the New York ports.
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Another Volvo wheel loader heading out the door! Two of Hoffman’s service techs servicing a new machine.
a trucking business. Two years later they bought a second truck, and they were off and running in a whole new direction.” For the next few years, the brothers continued their Belleville-based trucking business until Harry, Tim’s grandfather, went to Iran with the military where he was exposed to heavy equipment. When Harry came home, he took this newfound knowledge and focused the firm on heavy rigging, specialized rigging, and heavy trucking, as opposed to day-to-day freight. This was the second successful pivot for the Hoffman brothers, whose ability to respond to the changing needs of the market set the stage for the firm’s impressive legacy. In 1957, Winks passed away, leaving his portion of the company to Harry, who in turn brought in his son (Tim’s uncle), Harry Jr., also known as Jim. Harry passed away three short years later, leaving Jim as full owner of Hoffman Rigging and Crane. “He led the company through our heyday in the trucking and rigging business – through the sixties and into the mid-seventies.” Tim explains and gestures toward the mural of the port hanging on the wall. “As containerization of freight came into vogue in the mid 60’s, he moved the operation to Port Newark and bought a bunch of 200, then 300-ton cranes to handle these containers in Port Newark and Port Elizabeth. While we were still very active in the heavy rigging business, we were stevedoring containers at the port as well. That business was short lived though, once the ports came to appreciate the economics and productivity of stationary cranes as compared to mobile cranes.” So while the container business waned during the early 1970’s, Hoffman’s rigging business was just kicking into high gear….and the driver for this success was the nuclear power industry! “In that industry’s heyday, we were the dominant rigging contractor in the Northeast region performing heavy rigging service in the
construction of nuclear reactors. Salem, Forked River, Shoreham, etc.,” Hoffman did the heavy rigging and installation of the heavy reactors, boilers, and generators into the power plants being built at that time. Unfortunately, this industry’s growth spurt was short-lived, and came to a near complete stop shortly after the Three Mile Island accident in Harrisburg, PA.
Hoffman has come a long way since their start as a dealership as a Fiat-Allis shop. With their recent purchase of the Penn-Jersey company, Hoffman is now the dealer for Volvo Construction Equipment throughout their entire territory. “It’s been a long road, but we have finally arrived, and we now represent only the premium brands in the industry” says Watters. “In addition to Volvo, we are dealers for Manitowoc, Atlas Copco, NPK, Astec, LeeBoy, Case and JCB – these are all Premium brands and we are damn proud to offer these brands to our customers” In the 70’s, Hoffman Rigging and Crane Co. was the preeminent rigging contractor for the nuclear power industry, here seen moving a large vessel to its new home.
Once again, Hoffman was able to pivot in a new and more successful direction. “We still had our own operators at that point. Both of those industries [stevedoring and nuclear construction] died a sudden death in the mid-seventies and my uncle at that point was ready to retire. My father, Joe Watters, and Bill Hoffman (Wink’s son) worked in the company at that time, saw an opportunity and purchased the company and the equipment dealership located right where we sit today.” In 1978, Hoffman purchased Robert’s Equipment company, the Piscataway-based Fiat-Allis and P&H crane dealership. The move made sense for the Hoffman – they had already built up a several decade history with crane operations and owned a number of P&H cranes – but this purchase was more than just a pivot. It represented a full-scale business model change as they completely abandoned the rigging and stevedoring businesses that drove their success for the previous 50 years. An interesting specialty that sprung from the Hoffman’s port experience was their foray into the export market, which was a large portion of their business through the mid-eighties. “A lot of construction equipment at that time was still manufactured right here in the USA and we were able to leverage our new manufacturer relationships with our foreign contacts to create terrific export opportunities for the lines we represented. One example of our success was when a big Italian engineering company won a bid to construct a huge new refinery in Colombia. We supplied all of the rolling stock for that job – equipment, generators, compressors, trucks, vehicles, etc. – over 150 units. In the early eighties, we put together similar packages in Iran, Venezuela, Russia, and Egypt, and provided installation and ongoing services on location as well!”
Watters attributes the success and growth to “our unwavering commitment to customer service. Even 50 years ago as a rigging contractor, our success was a result of our commitment to providing the best service to our customers. Our tagline then was ‘The Total Service Company’, now it is ‘Service you can count on’. While the logo has evolved a bit over the years, the message remains the same: you can expect and count on Hoffman to provide exceptional service and satisfaction!”
As world economics changed and America was no longer the manufacturing hub it once was, Hoffman pivoted again and refocused their resources on their domestic territories in NY, NJ, and more recently Pennsylvania and Delaware. Tim Watters purchased the company from his father and Bill Hoffman in 2002 and the company has grown significantly since. From two locations and 45 employees in 2002, Hoffman now boasts nearly 150 employees working from seven locations in Piscataway NJ, Deptford NJ, Middlesex NJ, Lionville PA, the Bronx, Medford NY, and Marlboro NY.
Hoffman lives up to this tagline now by providing customers with exceptional service and parts support. “From our seven locations, we have over 100 people whose only job is to support our customers, whether with parts, service, or application and technical knowledge. We support these people with over 50 service vehicles, huge parts inventories, and the latest service technologies available. Most importantly, we invest in all of our people with training!” Hoffman invests a huge amount of money training their people and focuses this investment in five distinct areas: technical train-
A couple of Hoffman crane techs team up to remove and repair boom hoists from a vintage Manitowoc 4100.
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Well recognized as the premier crane distributor in the region – here one of Hoffman’s crane techs preps a new GMK all-terrain crane for delivery.
ing for technicians; product and application training for sales and techs; safety training; IT training; and management and leadership training. Says Watters, “Our industry is advancing rapidly and to remain competitive and provide better value proposition to our customers, we need to invest in our people to advantage the latest technologies, tools, software, and applications that are available.” In the ever-evolving field of equipment, one of the biggest advances recently according to Tim have been in the arenas of GPS technology and active care systems, where the manufacturer gets real time updates about the machines through cell phones and satellite connections and through the computers they now put on board. “So right now, Hoffman and Volvo get a ping from the machine, and we can then flag an issue for a customer long before they would otherwise know a problem may exist. So, we’re calling them and saying ‘You’ve got a problem developing, would you like us to come out and tend to this now before it advances and becomes more acute? Volvo has an office building full of people that monitor the alerts that come in from the fleet, and they notify us all of those that deserve attention, and then we have
60 minutes to alert our customer about the situation. Many times "While the logo has evolved a the customer may say ‘Yeah I know about bit over the years, the message that and we’re OK for remains the same: you can now,’ but a lot of times expect and count on Hoffman to they don’t know and they appreciate that we provide exceptional service and are helping them fix satisfaction!" small problems before - Tim Watters they get big, reducing their downtime and improving their bottom line! This has really only come online in the past couple of years – it’s a completely new channel of information and is quickly developing to become standard product offering.” As the technology evolves there is no doubt Hoffman Equipment will be there on the forefront of it all, ready and waiting for whatever the market may bring. The intrepid firm has navigated every challenge imaginable and garnered many accolades along the way, including the 2014 President’s E-Award for Export, acknowledging a major deal where they delivered $50M in USmade construction equipment to Cameroon, Africa. Tim, a third-generation Hoffman, took over the business in 2002 and has carried the model for success into the new decade with the recent acquisition of the Volvo line. Four generations of Hoffman’s have worked for the firm since its founding, and Tim sees a bright future ahead for those yet to come. He likes the idea of another expansion, should the opportunity arise, and anticipates a long and fruitful relationship with Volvo. UTCA congratulates Tim Watters and Hoffman Equipment team on a 100-year legacy of success; we can’t wait to see the next century yet to come.
Team Hoffman – nearly 150 strong and gathered here at Piscataway headquarters – are at your service.
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Withum celebrates 45 years in business "The secret behind the cpa firm's longevity and success" By: lou sandor III, Partner, cpa, ccifp & alanna denauski, marketing coordinator
ince Withum’s inception, its team of expert accountants and advisors has witnessed record success. In 2019, the public accounting firm celebrated 45 years of providing world-class advisory, tax and audit solutions. Withum attributes this milestone to its commitment to strong relationships with clients, team members, and the communities it serves. Withum’s story began in 1974 when Frederick Withum, Leonard Smith, and Ivan Brown started with just six employees in a small New Jersey office. Today, Withum is proud to have nearly 1,200 team members across multiple offices in eight states. Notwithstanding this broad geographic reach, the “Withum Way” culture is ubiquitous across every office. This unique culture cultivates innovation, passion, and a work hard/play hard attitude to grow and strengthen client success, applying the highest level of professional and ethical standards. Lou Sandor III Partner, CPA, CCIFP is credited as one of the first leaders to help define Withum’s Construction Services Team (CST). This past January, Lou recently celebrated his 30-year work anniversary. He is known for his love of fishing and he used his passion to create the Annual CST fishing trip, which is a big hit every summer. At this event, various construction professionals are invited out for a day of fishing, good food, and networking.
Withum's Mid-Atlantic Team Leaders pictured from left to right: Ron Martino, Diane McNulty, Lou Sandor III and Joe Malfettano
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Pictured from left to right at the Red Bank office, Ron Martino, Diane McNulty, Lou Sandor III and Joe Malfettano
“My experience at Withum has been a 30-year successful journey since leaving my first employer, a ‘Big 8’ accounting firm. Passionate about the construction industry and its bricks and mortars history, the firm and my partners embraced my desire to create a new path of being an accounting & tax professional specific to those doing business within and around the construction industry. The firm gave me the tools, equipment, and resources to design and build CST. This team has been encased in a culture of passionate, hardworking, trustworthy, and honest team members, destined to grow while having fun doing it. Now at a top advisory, tax, and accounting firm celebrating its 45th year in business, much of my time is spent leading, mentoring, and advising team members and clients. Today, while we operate in many states, I am traveling more, raising 4 teenagers with my beautiful wife of 20 years, and feeling like one of the older folks.” Withum’s Construction Services Team serves many UTCA members, among others, and has since its inception. Led by Lou Sandor III, the CST is fueled by over 40 construction members, five
Members of Withum's Florida CST. Pictured from left to right: Ryan Herring, Ray Bastin, Ronald Person and Peter Hilera.
tunities, stories, and expertise to serve its clients better in overlapping industries. Withum’s Triple Play team is active in many industry organizations aiming to improve, protect, and educate the construction, real estate, architecture, and engineering community. The Triple Play team also sponsors many trade organization events, conferences, and dinners to promote industry growth.
Pictured from left to right: Diane McNulty, Alanna Denauski, Lou Sandor III, Andrea Anderson and Stephen Antenucci at UTCA Annual Convention in 2019.
of whom are Certified Construction Industry Financial Professionals (CCIFP). This credential promotes the highest standards of construction financial management. Helping lead the team to grow market share in various geographic locations, partners Ron Martino Jr. CPA, CCIFP, Diane McNulty, CPA, and Joe Malfettano, CPA, CCIFP, are the Team Leaders for the Mid-Atlantic market; partners Ray Bastin, CPA, and Peter Hilera, CPA, are the Team Leaders for the Florida market; and partner Vinny Botta, CPA, CGMA, is the Team Leader for the Massachusetts market. In addition, Withum recently joined forces with KSJG, LLP, a public accounting and consulting firm based in Irvine, CA. Through this acquisition, Withum’s CST will grow to the west coast to deepen its impact within the construction community.
Withum’s annual fishing trip at the Atlantic Highlands Harbor.
Withum serves the needs of both small and large contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, builders, distributors, demolishers, and the like within the construction field. The CST specializes in advisory, audit, state and local tax regulations, technology-based solutions, and business process optimization, helping clients be more profitable, efficient, and productive in the modern business landscape. Aside from providing construction-specific services, through Withum’s “Triple Play” approach, they serve other industry areas such as real estate, architecture, and engineering. Withum’s cross-trained team utilizes internal camaraderie to share oppor-
In addition to supporting various industry association endeavors, volunteerism and community outreach are an integral part of Withum’s culture. During the firm’s annual “Withum Week of Caring,” for the 2019 year, more than 700 team members gave
Withum team members volunteering at Fulfill Food Bank.
back at various nonprofit organizations during the holiday season. This initiative benefitted more than 50 charitable organizations in each of the communities Withum serves. For example, CST members volunteered at the Salvation Army, the Holiday Express, Fulfill Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counites, the Monmouth Daycare Center, and several other organizations in their local community. In total, the firm volunteered more than 2,500 hours across seven states along the East Coast. Over the past 45 years, Withum has seen tremendous growth and continues to rank among the best accounting firms in the country. During this past year, Withum ranked 15th on Construction Executive’s Top 50 Construction Accounting Firms list and was also named a top-15 accounting firm in the 2020 Vault Accounting 50. These accolades help bring and retain the best and brightest at the firm to expand its knowledge and service capabilities for construction-based businesses, among other industries. Withum’s CST has been a staple in the construction community, going above traditional advisory and accounting services to act as a trusted advisor and strategic partner. The secret behind the firm’s success is its team members – hiring those with an innovative, entrepreneurial mindset who put client service above all else. Withum’s CST plans to continue to educate, coach, and mentor the construction community for many more years to come.
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MAKING OUR CITIES ™ GREAT AGAIN WASTEWATER• WATER SUPPLY • MICROTUNNELING • TRA NSPORTATION
Hoffman Equipment Celebrating 100 years in Business
Withum Celebrating 45 years in Business
675 Line Road Aberdeen, New Jersey 07747
P: 732.290.0700 I F: 732.290.8960 email@example.com
"An Equal Opportunity Employer"
look out: New Jersey passed one of the toughest wage theft laws in the nation By: greg trif & kyle H. Cassidy, trif law llc
n August 6, 2019, New Jersey enacted one of the harshest wage theft laws in the United States. The New Jersey Wage Theft Act (“Wage Theft Act”) amends the existing wage and hour statutes by, among other things, significantly increasing employer penalties and liability for wage and hour violations. Employers violate these laws when they fail to pay their employees mandatory minimum wages, overtime, or for every hour worked. With the Wage Theft Act, contractors must be cognizant of the expansive and onerous requirements of the amendment to avoid liability thereunder. Below are some changes imposed by the Wage Theft Act that may have a significant impact on contractors.
Considering the presumption of retaliatory conduct, contractors (and their human resources departments) must be especially cautious in taking any action against employees who have engaged in protected activities. Moreover, to the extent any justified action is taken against an employee, contractors must be particularly careful in properly documenting the non-retaliatory basis for taking such action. Enhanced Employer Liability. An employee who successfully establishes a violation of the Wage Theft Act may recover the wages owed, plus additional liquidated damages of up to two hundred percent (200%) of the wages found due. In addition to liquidated damages, the amendment allows aggrieved employees
Notably, employers who knowingly fail to pay wages or retaliate against employees may face criminal liability. The severity of the penalties depend on the number of offenses as follows: - First Offense: Fines between $500 to $1,000 and prison sentence between ten (10) to ninety (90) days. - Second Offense: Fines between $1,000 to $2,000 and prison sentence up to one hundred (100) days. - Third Offense: Fines up to $15,000 and prison sentence up to five (5) years. Statute of Limitations Increased from Two to Six Years. The amendment expands the time within which an employee can file a wage and hour claim from two (2) to six (6) years. The amendment also provides that all retaliation claims should be brought within the extended six (6) year time period. Because of the lengthened statute of limitations, contractors should consider maintaining their employee’s files and records for at least six (6) years after an employment ends. These records may be critical to defend against an otherwise baseless claim.
Anti-Retaliation Protections. The amendment expressly prohibits retaliation against employees who complain or advise co-workers about their employer’s failure to pay full wages. Specifically, the amendment broadly protects employees who: (i) complain to the employer, union representative, or the Department of Labor; (ii) file or testify in an action commenced under the wage and hour laws; and (iii) inform fellow employees about their rights under such laws. The amendment also allows employees to file separate claims if their employer takes an “adverse employment action” (such as termination, demotion, or reprimand) in retaliation for the employee’s filing such a claim. Notably, under the Act, an employer’s adverse employment action is presumed to be retaliatory if it is taken within ninety (90) days of the employee’s complaint. This presumption is only rebuttable by presentation of clear and convincing evidence showing that the adverse action was taken for non-retaliatory reasons. Employers who are found to have terminated an employee in violation of the Act are required to offer the employee reinstatement plus pay for the time lost.
to recover reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees. For a first offense only, employers may avoid liquidated damages if they: (i) establish that their act or omission was an “inadvertent error made in good faith;” (ii) had “reasonable grounds” for believing the act or omission was not violative of wage and hours laws; (iii) acknowledge violation of the law; and (iv) pay the owed wages within thirty (30) days of notice of the violation. Because there exists a timing component for avoiding liquidated damages, contractors facing liability must evaluate a claim expeditiously and, if appropriate, resolve it by making the required payment to reduce its financial exposure.
Joint and Several Liability. The Wage Theft Act makes New Jersey employers and “labor contractors” jointly and severally liable for violations of wage and hour laws, including claims for employer retaliation. This change may have significant impact on contractors who obtain their labor through staffing arrangements, excluding arrangements with bona fide labor organizations, apprenticeship programs, or hiring halls operated pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement. Importantly, contractors cannot avoid joint and several liability through contractual waivers because any such waiver is unenforceable and expressly deemed to be against public policy.
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trump administration proposes comprehensive reforms to nepa process By: dan kennedy, director of environmental & utility operations
he National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) is a foundational environmental law enacted in 1970 (exactly 50 years ago during the Nixon Era) with a mission to enhance the environment by requiring Federal agencies to evaluate environmental effects of proposed projects prior to construction. Born during a time of increased public concern for the environment in the 1960s, NEPA came to be concurrently with the Clean Air Act and was followed shortly after by the Clean Water Act. Further driving NEPA into existence was the outpouring of local opposition efforts to both the construction of the Interstate Highway System, which often cut through existing communities, and to the aggressive delivery of federally funded housing projects. NEPA predates most state environmental laws, and if there was a Mt. Rushmore for environmental laws, let’s just say NEPA would be on it.
vironmental Assessments (“EA”) for major federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the environment for larger projects. In addition, New Jersey has its own requirements for EA / EISs to comply with Executive Order #215 of 1989 (Kean), regardless of federal participation.
Rulemaking recently initiated by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) is the first significant revision of the NEPA regulations since the original regulations were promulgated in 1978. According to the new proposal, its revisions would modernize the NEPA regulations and facilitate more efficient, effective, and timely NEPA reviews. The current regulatory construct is accused of being a major drive of project delays. This matters to all UTCA members because projects that trigger NEPA reviews are not put out to bid until their processes (and any litigation) play out. Efforts to streamline and modernize NEPA are long overdue and welcome to the infrastructure construction industry.
President Trump issued Executive Order 13807 (Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure) during his first six months in office. The EO has a clear stated purpose to “ensure that the Federal environmental review and permitting process for infrastructure projects is coordinated, predictable, and transparent” with policy statements that clearly consider the need to safeguard communities and maintain a healthy environment. Nowhere in the EO calls for an elimination of NEPA reviews. The EO focuses on federal agency performance and accountability for performing environmental reviews and making authorization decisions. It requires all federal agencies to set goals related to their role under NEPA, establishes a “One Federal Decision” mechanism to avoid duplicative efforts and a process for enhancements to get through the NEPA process in two years or less. These changes and others are sensible and measured for the operations of the federal government, as most agree with the basic tenet of EO 13807 that, “America needs increased infrastructure investment to strengthen our economy, enhance our competitiveness in world trade, create jobs and increase wages for our workers, and reduce the costs of goods and services for our families.”
NEPA casts a wide net in terms of infrastructure. It has broad applicability to federally funded / sponsored projects, permits for some private activity, federal grants and funding decisions, and rulemaking. This includes most infrastructure projects where the federal government is a funding partner, including critical components of our network of roads, bridges, and tunnels. It also includes interstate energy infrastructure projects given the role of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) in approvals. This federal review process rarely works in concert with state and local reviews resulting in a complicated web of oversight even for projects with clear environmental benefits. Under its current regulations, Federal agencies must consider the “environmental impact of major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment before taking such actions.” Federal agencies comply with NEPA and its regulations by developing Environmental Impact Statements (“EIS”) or En-
What’s Being Done to Modernize NEPA?
What Does NEPA Currently Require?
Observers may remember the scuffle between the Kerry-lead US State Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in relation to the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Or…the classic sibling rivalry between EPA and FERC that came to a head through a strongly worded public letter in 2016 related to indirect climate impacts of the pipelines FERC permits. NEPA’s flaws spilled out for all to see as these federal agencies sparred over control. An embarrassing outcome for the federal government.
This January, CEQ issued a proposal to reform NEPA. This is the next step in meeting the stated purpose of EO 13807. The CEQ proposal purports to simplify regulatory requirements, reflect current technologies and agency practices, and improve the format and readability of the regulations. The proposal sets presumptive time limits to prepare EAs at one year and two years for EISs unless a senior agency official approves in writing a longer time period. In addition, the proposal would limit the page length (not
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including appendices) of EAs to 75 pages and 300 pages for EISs unless a senior agency official provides written approval to lengthen the document. The CEQ proposal limits the scope of review to direct impacts, which would essentially limit environmental reviews for infrastructure to the impact of putting it in the ground and operating it. Supporters argue that this was always the intent of the law. Truncating how agencies look at indirect and cumulative environmental impacts would reverse the trend of the federal government to take a broader look at individual projects. This past June, CEQ replaced Obama-era guidance issued in 2017 with new draft guidance that gave agencies broader discretion. Battlelines Drawn
The predictable lines have been drawn with environmentalists on one side and the business community on the other. The sides throw out examples of poster child projects that either illustrate that there is a problem under NEPA related to unnecessary delays or there is not. Predictably, this is being billed as an “attack on climate change” by opponents. I concede that that projects can be delayed for a multitude of reasons and that NEPA has been scapegoat for all that can go wrong with project delivery. That being said, a 50+ year old construct can always use some fine-tuning and UTCA supports the intent of this proposal. All laws, governmental regulation and policy, like the people that operate them, are imperfect. NEPA was written and authorized by people who, at the time, were responding to the challenges and opportunities of the day. No governmental process should be exempt from improvement. I would argue that critical laws of consequence like NEPA, which is considered the Magna Carta of environmental law, can and should be reviewed as a priority and periodically improved as a default function of government. The stakes are too high to leave any critical law unimproved for over five decades without a critical eye.
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A quote I have kept on my office wall for as long as I can remember comes from William H. White, a respected urbanist who in his work The Organizational Man, originally published in 1956, wrote: "We are not hapless beings caught in the grip of forces we can do little about, and wholesale damnations of our society only lend a further mystique to organization. Organization has been made by man; it can be changed by man." So instead of condemning or supporting one side of the argument, I will say that UTCA is both supportive of the CEQ proposal and the need for informed public engagement. When done right, informed and organized public engagement can produce better design, more community value and fewer issues during construction. The government and its consultants do not have all the solutions. To design and approve critical or costly infrastructure in a complete vacuum has negative consequences to taxpayers and rate payers alike. A reformed NEPA process can help save money and accelerate the construction schedules of infrastructure projects that we know are needed to improve public health and safety. Paraphrasing Mr. White…NEPA was created by man; it can be changed by man. What’s Next? Public comment is open on the CEQ proposal. Comments are due by March 10th and you can be sure that UTCA will be submitting supportive comments. Vital infrastructure projects have no justification for artificial and unnecessary roadblocks. It is anticipated that the proposal will be adopted unless blocked by court order. Litigation is expected. Stay tuned.
Is your benefits package meeting the needs of your employees? By: nancy Damato, rda benefit services
egardless of the size of your company, your employees are your most valuable asset. And second only to payroll in terms of cost, the comprehensive benefit programs you offer are essential for attracting and retaining these employees. There are more challenges to consider now more than ever as you determine what to include in that benefits package: a multi-generational workforce, competition for talent, legislative changes, and, of course, rising health care costs. According to a recent survey, some of the top new employee benefits for 2020 are: • Financial Wellness Programs • Mental Health Benefits • Student Loan Debt Repayment Programs • Paid Family Leave
help them manage this problem. Companies are using a variety of solutions to help employees reduce student debt, and there are many different service providers that offer programs to manage this valuable benefit. Paid Family Leave These benefits continue to expand, with more changes occurring in 2020. In 2019, employers with 30 or more employees became subject to the NJ Family Leave Act, providing up to 12 weeks of job-protected family leave. Plus, the new law expanded the definition of a “family member,” to include those beyond the immediate family. Starting July 1, 2020, the new law increases the paid family leave insurance program to 12 weeks and increases intermittent Family Leave Insurance (FLI) from 42 days to 56 days. Also, the FLI weekly benefit rate will increase to 85% of the employee’s average weekly wage, with a benefit cap of $859.
Financial Wellness Programs
Communication is Key to the Success of Your Benefit Programs
New research shows that businesses are losing $500 billion a year due to employee financial stress. The survey found that these employees usually spend at least 3 hours a week at work dealing with their personal finances, resulting in lost productivity as well. And interestingly enough, financial stress has been found at all income levels. Now employers are stepping up to assist employees with their finances through financial wellness programs, including salary-linked loans, as an employee benefit.
It’s not enough just to offer a robust menu of benefits. Many employee benefit plans come with a wide variety of additional services as well as ways to make access to care easier — benefits such as preventive care, disease and sleep management, prenatal care, telemedicine, reimbursement for wellness activities, claims assistance and onsite seminars, to name a few. So, it is imperative that employees understand all the benefits that are available to them.
Mental Health Benefits
Companies are encouraged to establish a platform to educate employees about their benefit plans and all that is offered. Do you have technology in place that can be used as an educational tool to communicate all your employee benefits? Explaining insurance terminology, giving detailed information about the free wellness benefits available with the health insurance plans, using educational webinars and onsite benefit fairs, are a few examples.
Many insurance carriers have enhanced the mental health benefits on their health plans as increased mental healthcare is linked to greater productivity and improved overall health. Online resources, in addition to in-person behavioral therapy, have increased the access to care. In addition, employees may not be aware that Employee Assistance Programs offered by their employer include mental health resources. The stigma associated with mental health issues does prevent some employees from getting help, but increased public awareness is helping to overcome this issue. Student Loan Debt Repayment Programs Employees are struggling with more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt and more and more employers are offering solutions to
employee benefits trends for 2020
Communicate with employees often during the year, not just during open enrollment, to ensure they are engaged with their benefits. Use a variety of communication methods and online tools to ensure you are reaching everyone. Your benefits broker can assist you with this process and provide additional benefit programs to enhance your core benefits package. And remember: it’s not too early to start taking a look at what is available.
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By: margaret chandler neville, rehs/ih, principal consultant haztek inc.
.S. EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule was first introduced in 1991 and at that time it was estimated that 10.2 million Lead Service Lines (LSLs) were actively utilized by water systems around the country. With the public consciousness raised to the concerns for identifying sources of lead in drinking water by the declaration of a public health emergency in 2015 in Flint, Michigan, water companies and communities have begun to replace LSLs in an effort to reduce the hazard of lead leaching into the drinking water. In 2018, American Water Works Association (AWWA) estimated that 6.1 million LSLs were still in use.
Paul Olson, senior manager of standards programs for AWWA, explained the development and release of the first edition of AWWA’s 2017 standards document, C810-17 Replacement and Flushing of Lead Service Lines, as follows: “AWWA’s new standard is intended to describe essential procedures for the replacement of lead service lines, including … [the] appropriate tools and techniques; flushing of service lines after replacement; instructions to inform customers affected by the replacement, including additional risk reduction measures; and verification of lead level management prior to return of service.”  This standard created a user guide for addressing procedures for the removal of the LSLs and informing utilities about their requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act to communicate lead risks when there is an exceedance of the lead action level as defined in the Lead and Copper Rule and annually as part of their consumer confidence reports. For utilities participating in mandatory LSL replacement, specific communication outreach requirements must be met for the targeted affected households, and guidelines suggest proactive community education not only when lead service lines are repaired or replaced but also when routine maintenance work on water mains may disturb lead service lines. Specific worker protection lead education for employees of the utility or third party contracted workers is not addressed in this standard because both EPA and OSHA have established federal codes for work which may expose employees to Lead Containing Materials (LCM). OSHA’s Lead in Construction Standard; 29 CFR 1926.62, lists the following minimum requirements when any amount of lead may be present and possibly create an airborne lead dust/fume exposure. Such hazards may come from torch cutting or mechanical cutting or abrasion of lead containing materials. Typical trench-
is your company in compliance with all lead federal & state codes during lead service line replacement contracts? less LSL replacement methods such as directional drilling or pneumatic or hydraulic ramming tools (boring tools) to pull in the new service line on a new route or cutting and leaving the existing lead service in place and replacing it using a new service line may also produce some level of dust lead hazard on both ends of the operation. Further, open LSL trenching and cutting removal methods also create a possibility for lead exposure through handling and cutting activities. I. Exposure Assessment and Interim Protection [1926.62(d)] Regardless of the amount of lead, each employer who has a workplace or operation covered by this standard shall initially determine if any employee may be exposed to lead at or above the Action Level (AL is the average of 30 micrograms of lead in a cubic meter of air, averaged over 8 hours) The employer must conduct initial exposure assessments of all workplaces and operations where lead or lead-containing materials are being used, disturbed, or removed. Average lead content of the standard LSLs is 90 – 99.99% Lead, 0 – 9% Antimony, and 0 – 2% Tin. The Interim Protection, in accordance with the requirements of 1926.62(d)(2)(v), would include pre-emptive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) until negative exposure assessments have been established. Employer must implement mandatory employee protective measures prior to and during the exposure assessment of tasks presumed to generate lead exposures greater than the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL is the average of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air over 8-hours) II. Lead Hazard Communication Training 1926.62(l)(1)(i) and/or 1926.21 Lead Task Safety Training and Education is required prior to any employee working with any amount of Lead Containing Materials, regardless of whether the LCM is organic or inorganic in nature. III. Housekeeping and Hygiene -1926.62(h) Written standard operating procedures must be established for the tasks of decontamination of clothing, tools, etc. Section 1926.62(h)(1) states that "All surfaces shall be maintained as free as practicable of accumulations of lead." Section 1926.62(i)(2)(i) of this standard requires that "The employer shall provide clean change areas for employees whose airborne exposure to lead is above the permissible exposure level." Section 1926.62(i)(4)(ii) requires that "The employer shall assure that lunchroom facilities or eating areas are as free as practicable from lead contamination and are readily accessible to employees” and 1926.62(i)(4)(iv) requires that “The employer shall assure that employees do not enter lunchroom facilities or eating areas with protective work clothing or equipment unless surface lead dust has been removed by vacuuming, downdraft booth, or other cleaning method that limits dispersion of lead dust.”
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IV. Handwashing Facilities must be provided and available for use prior to eating, drinking, smoking, and toilet use. 1926.62(i)(5) V. Signage 1926.62(g)(2)(vii)(A) requires that “The employer shall ensure that the containers of contaminated protective clothing and equipment required by paragraph (g)(2)(v) of this section are labeled as follows:” DANGER: CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT CONTAMINATED WITH LEAD. MAY DAMAGE FERTILITY OR THE UNBORN CHILD. CAUSES DAMAGE TO THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM. DO NOT EAT, DRINK OR SMOKE WHEN HANDLING. DO NOT REMOVE DUST BY BLOWING OR SHAKING. DISPOSE OF LEAD CONTAMINATED WASH WATER IN ACCORDANCE WITH APPLICABLE LOCAL, STATE, OR FEDERAL REGULATIONS. If the Exposure Assessment results in sufficient evaluation that the tasks will not produce an airborne hazard above the Action Level of eight-hour average of 30 micrograms of lead in a cubic meter of breathing zone air, this may be used as a Negative Exposure Assessment for 12 months. If the Exposure Assessment results in employees being exposed for 30 days at the Action Level, medical surveillance is required. Exposure at or above the Permissible Exposure Level of 50 micrograms of lead in a cubic meter of breathing zone air triggers the full compliance under the regulation including engineering and work practice controls, respiratory protection, protective clothing and equipment decontamination, hygiene facilities and practices, specific lead work area designation and signs, and possibly temporary medical removal protection due to elevated blood lead. Since the U.S. EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have established that there is no safe level of lead, precautions
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must be integrated into all aspects of the project operations to prevent lead contamination in the targeted affected household as well as preventing the occupational “take-home” lead exposure of the employee. Effective January 6 of 2020, the EPA finalized a rule to reduce the level of dust lead hazard assessment standards. These standards apply to most pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities (COF) such as day care centers and kindergarten facilities and was designed to identify dust-lead hazards from lead-based paints, however dust-lead hazards may be created during LSL replacement. Under the previously enforced rule, created in 2001, dust lead was considered a hazard when the level of lead in the dust reached or exceeded 40 micrograms per square foot on floors, 250 micrograms per square foot on interior window sills, and 400 micrograms per square foot in the window well. Hazardous dust lead may be generated from soils containing 400 parts per million in the soil of areas where children play and 1,200 parts per million for bare soil elsewhere on the property (some states or local jurisdictions may have lower standards). The 2020 EPA new lower standards identify a dust lead hazard for floors at or above 10 micrograms per square foot and at or above 100 micrograms per square foot for interior windowsills/wells and 40 micrograms per square foot on exterior porch areas. All contractors and utility workers should be mindful to wear clean protective foot coverings when entering the targeted affected households and to decontaminate thoroughly prior to entering their own homes. For more information on compliance with the OSHA and EPA Lead Standards, join us at the March 6th UTCA conference.
By: michael caruso, carbro constructors corp.
hen I first met Greg Trif in 2010, I was a young lawyer starting out as a summer associate in the construction surety practice group at one of the largest firms in New Jersey. I quickly recognized that Greg was one of the most respected attorneys at the firm. Even then, he had a reputation for effectively attacking difficult legal issues and was the sort of attorney everyone wanted on their team when the game was on the line. I knew then that Greg possessed something exceedingly rare – a combination of integrity, relentless advocacy, and pride in his practice. Given my experience with Greg, I was not surprised when I received his call last year informing us of his plan to start Trif Law.
Since becoming an attorney and throughout his decorated career, Greg envisioned forming a client-centric boutique construction law firm capable of delivering effective solutions without sacrificing personal attention. As Greg put it, “the formation of Trif Law was long in the making. I firmly believe that no one works harder than the person who loves what they do. At the firm, we are fortunate to do what we love with colleagues that share our passion for clients who we respect.” It seems that Greg's goal is now a reality for the attorneys at Trif Law and the contractors whom they represent. The attorneys at Trif Law make it their business to meaningfully understand their clients’ business. Speaking firsthand, Greg handles every one of my matters with the utmost care and attention. He works with integrity, has an iron will, and is unrelenting in pursuing my company’s interests. He understands our industry's challenges, fights for my company as if it were his own, and becomes a subject matter expert in every case he handles. Christopher Kunkel, General Counsel to Ferreira Construction Co., Inc. and American Pile and Foundation LLC, who has worked with Greg for over 15 years, both as a colleague in private practice and, more recently, as a client, said, “Greg is a very reliable, thorough, and competent professional who always has his clients’ best interests in mind. He and his team handle every matter with professionalism, confidence, and integrity.” At Trif Law, they do not only form relationships with their clients' management team and field crew, but also the insurance, surety, and accounting professionals who help them achieve their goals. During one of our early discussions, Greg explained that having a relationship with all individuals who support a client allows him to develop a legal strategy that considers the overall business plan. With a deep and personal understanding of its client’s objectives and the benefit of experience, Trif Law is ready to respond quickly, efficiently, and strategically to address project-related disputes before they become pervasive and costly. For the disputes that do not lend themselves to early project-level resolution, Trif Law litigates
trif law celebrates its inaugural year relentlessly, effectively, and without leaving any avenue unexplored. I contacted industry professional Robert Culnen of C&H Agency to get his comment on his clients’ experience with Greg Trif and Trif Law. Mr. Culnen had this to say, “Greg is an extremely responsive professional who is aggressive in the pursuit of his clients’ interests, yet eager to procure resolutions that benefit and serve his clients. My clients who have worked with Greg have been extremely satisfied.” Unsurprisingly, Trif Law has already delivered favorable results to the contractors it represents. Since its inception, the firm has successfully secured public contracts for clients through bid challenges and defended against protests lodged against its clients. Through strategic and personal attention, Trif Law has also guided contractors during project crises to ensure the successful completion of projects and avoid years of costly litigation. The attorneys at Trif Law have also secured favorable judgments and awards for contractors seeking judgment and recovery of monies rightfully due them. In addressing what distinguishes Trif Law from other firms, Greg explained: “we invest time to speak with our clients to understand them and their needs. No client is the same and should never be treated as such. An open dialogue is vital to ensure that we remain client-centric and deliver the results our clients expect. As a highly specialized boutique firm, we are uniquely situated to offer our clients the personal attention that they deserve. The attorney who has the relationship and intimate knowledge of the client’s needs and goals is the same attorney who is tasked and committed to advance them.” Trif Law is able to maintain its values without sacrificing performance or results through the use of the latest technology and resources. In fact, the firm represents some of the largest contractors in the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area, as well as many small to mid-size companies. “We are excited about our future and look forward to strengthening our relationship with the UTCA and all of its members to better serve our clients and their industry. Above all, we are so grateful to the individuals who have confidence and trust in us to represent them in their important matters, and intend to work tirelessly to keep both,” Greg said.
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