[VIDEO] OSHA Shifts Enforcement Deadlines on New Whistle-blower, Drug-testing Rules

Widespread industry opposition has forced OSHA to delay enforcement of its new drug-testing rule until December 1 - or possibly later; plus more construction industry news on the November 10, 2016, edition of Construction News Tracker

Construction News Tracker is brought to you by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.

Another setback date for OSHA and its enforcement of the post accident drug testing and safety programs it seeks to impose. The federal agency was originally expected to begin enforcement of the anti-retaliation provisions reasonable reporting procedure in August, but faced with widespread industry opposition delayed it to November 1st. But there's a new wrinkle in the form of a Texas federal court opposing the rules, and OSHA will not enforce the drug testing rule until December 1st and possibly later if the latest challenge is upheld.

The U.S. Department of Commerce says the nation's gross domestic product grew 2.9% in the third quarter of the year, a realized expansion of a strengthening economy. It's the best quarterly improvement since 2013. 

This is borne out by the latest unemployment report from the labor department that payrolls gained 161,000 jobs in October. This follows a gain of 191,000 jobs in September and places the unemployment rate at 4.9%. Construction jobs increased by 11,000 in October — a steady but not overwhelming rise.

AGC continuing analysis of Labor Department statistics finds construction employment rose in 35 states through the month of September, although near-term employment rose in only 21 states and D.C. from August to September.

The difficulty in contractors finding qualified workers to fill jobs continues. The annual statistical analysis bolsters the need for a national program of secondary education to offer construction related courses.

Project applications totaling $850 million are being sought by the U.S. Department of Transportation for its 2017 round of FASTLANE grant money. It's part of the FAST Act approved in 2015 amounting to $4.5 billion. December 15 is the application cut off date for this solicitation to states and local governments seeking funding for various road projects, and the early timing is a new method of getting federal dollars into the pipeline quicker than previous efforts.

The latest prognostication for construction's future is coming from Dodge Data and its Chief Economist Robert Murray. The 2017 construction outlook considers the immediate future as a measured upturn as opposed to a so-called indusrty boom. Murray believes the economy will remain strong with the attendant growth into 2018 before a cyclical slowdown is realized. To support his outlook, Dodge Data believes public works construction will help keep the expansion going while price fluctuations in electric and gas plant building will continue to cause consternation. 2018 and 2019 outlooks are far from rosy at the time and could portend a brief recession.

Federal officials have granted emergency funds to both of the Carolinas following last month's Hurricane Matthew damage. North Carolina will receive $5 million and South Carolina will get $1 million from the Federal Highway Administration to use in rebuilding roads and bridges.

In a related effort to repair damage, Home Advisor and other entities claim the shortage of contractors in the region could result in longer delays for homeowners to obtain repairs. Replacement window installations are said to be up by 133%, tile roof repairs up 120% while work order for portable generators in the Carolinas and Georgia were reportedly facing a 240% increase. Labor needs, according to local officials, faced a severe shortage.

Finally, success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you're doing you will be successful.

This is Construction News Tracker looking over the industry that makes the world a better place. Presented by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com. 

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