Following our recent blog in relation to the challenges and issues in the construction industry arising post Grenfell, and the Dame Hackitt Review, the Government continues with its mission to tackle some root safety concerns. One of the many recommendations made was that more needs to be done to ensure that construction products are robustly tested, certified and labelled, and that there needs to be a more robust regulatory framework to police this. Furthermore, to ensure that there is greater accountability for those manufacturing and /or selling dangerous building products.
As of November 15, 2019, building owners in New York City are required to install “sustainable roofing zones” on all newly constructed buildings, expansions of existing roofs and roof replacements. The new laws were passed by the New York City Council on April 18, 2019, and became law on May 20, 2019. These new ordinances, known as Local Laws 92 and 94 of 2019, passed as part of a broad package of laws known as the New York City Climate Mobilization Act, whose goal is reduction of building carbon emissions. Because the sustainable roof requirements are effective now, plans submitted to the Department of Buildings for approval must include plans for sustainable roofs.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ended 2018 by vetoing New York Senate Bill 6686 to amend the state finance law by adding a new section 138-b to allow contractors working on public construction projects seek delay damages against government agencies. The vetoed bill would have required all public contracts to contain a clause allowing a contractor, subcontractor or supplier to make a claim for costs due to excusable delays resulting from actions or omissions by a public owner or any of its representatives. The bipartisan bill sponsored by Senators Michael Ranzenhofer (Republican) and Luis Sepulveda (Democrat) passed the Assembly by a vote of 103 to 40 and the Senate 59 to 0. The text of the bill can be seen here.
Jose A. Aquino (@JoseAquinoEsq on Twitter) is a special counsel in the New York office of Duane Morris LLP, where he is a member of the Construction Group and of the Duane Morris Cuba Business Group. Mr. Aquino focuses his practice on commercial litigation with a concentration in construction law, mechanics’ lien law and government procurement law. This blog is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s law firm or its individual attorneys.
New York’s State Legislature has just passed a bill that would require a no-prejudice standard be applied in determining the application of notice provisions in public construction contracts. 
The bill amended current statutes  so as to require that unless the public owner can show they have suffered material prejudice as a result of a contractor’s (or/and subcontractor’s) failure to provide timely notice, rights are not barred. If the required notice is received more than 180 days after the time required under the contract, the burden to establish no-prejudice shifts to the contractor/subcontractor.
The Legislature Memo prepared to explain and support the bill referred to current notice provisions as one-sided and unfair “gotcha” provisions. The Memo further contended that some public owners were getting “free work” when contractors or subcontractors are barred from pursuing claims due to non-compliant notices.
Another significant element of the bill appears in the definitional section where it is provided that a “public owner’s actual knowledge of the events in question shall preclude a claim of material prejudice due to any lack of notice.” Some city and state contracts often specifically provide that actual knowledge cannot relieve contractors of the strict requirements of the notice provisions.
The bill will not become effective, however, until 180 days after it is signed by the Governor and becomes law and then only as to contracts awarded after that date.
The text of the bill is here .
1. The bill is A10136 and S6906 which passed on June 18, 2016.
2. The bill amends the Public Authorities Law, the General Municipal Law, the Public Service Law and the State Finance Law.
The calculation of lost labor productivity, also termed labor inefficiencies, is one of the most significant elements of damages in a construction dispute and one of the most controversial. If these damages are proven, the monetary value claim can be a considerable amount. This is far from surprising seeing as labor costs can make up to 30 to 50% of overall project costs and if these projects lose money, the unanticipated labor costs result from lesser unexpected productivity. Lost labor productivity has become controversial since owners and general contractors are skeptical of the methods in curating these calculations can be considered questionable, speculative, and illusory. The article will further define how lost labor productivity claims developed; the interplay of Daubert in the pursuit of, and defense against, such claims; and recent federal and state case law addressing loss productivity.
The full article, written by Duane Morris partner Daniel E. Toomey and Duane Morris associate Joshua S. Marks, along with Dr. Tong Zhao, P.E. and J. Mark Dungan of Delta Consulting Group, Inc., is available on the Duane Morris LLP website, courtesy of The Construction Lawyer.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Recordkeeping regulation (29 CFR 1904) covered employers are required to prepare and maintain records of serious occupational injuries and illnesses. Revisions to the OSHA reporting requirements went into effect on January 1, 2015. The revised rule expands the list of severe work-related injuries that all covered employers must report to OSHA.
Employers are now required to contact OSHA within 24 hours following any in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, or loss of an eye. Additionally, employers are now required to notify OSHA of work related fatalities within eight hours following a fatality. Previously, an employer was not required to report a single hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye, as only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees were required to be reported.
Employers can provide notice to OSHA of an occurrence by either: 1) calling the nearest local OSHA office during normal business hours; 2) calling OSHA’s free and confidential number at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742); or 3) reporting the occurrence electronically using the new online reporting form that is expected to available in mid-January.
In addition to the new reporting requirements, OSHA updated the list of industries that are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep OSHA injury and illness records. The new list of exempt industries is based on the North American Industry Classification System and injury and illness data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Note that the new rule maintains the exemption for any employer with ten or fewer employees, regardless of their industry classification, from the requirement to routinely keep records.
The reporting requirement rule was revised to allow OSHA to focus its efforts more effectively to prevent fatalities and serious work-related injuries and illnesses. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels, summed up the purpose of the new rule: “OSHA will now receive crucial reports of fatalities and severe work-related injuries and illnesses that will significantly enhance the agency’s ability to target our resources to save lives and prevent further injury and illness. This new data will enable the agency to identify the workplaces where workers are at the greatest risk and target our compliance assistance and enforcement resources accordingly.”
For more information about the new rule, visit OSHA’s website.
New York Lien Law § 38 states that the holder of a mechanic’s lien “shall, on demand in writing, deliver to the owner or contractor making such demand a statement in writing which shall set forth the items of labor and/or material and the value thereof which make up the amount for which he [or she] claims a lien, and which shall also set forth the terms of the contract under which such items were furnished.” In Associated Building Services Inc. v Pentecostal Faith Church, 112 A.D.3d 1130, 976 N.Y.S.2d 699 (3rd Dept. 2013), the Court held that a lienor is not always required to provide an itemization of labor and materials furnished to substantiate its mechanic’s lien.
Duane Morris is pleased to announce that Duane Morris partner Frederick Cohen has been selected by Best Lawyers as a “Lawyer of the Year” in New York City Litigation – Construction law for 2014. Only one lawyer in each practice area and city is given this honor. Lawyers are selected based on high marks received during the extensive peer-review assessments conducted by Best Lawyers each year.
The February 1st deadline to comply with the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act is fast approaching. The Act requires New York State employers to provide to each employee a written notice containing specific information about the employee’s wages. The notice must be given to all employees, including employees earning union wages and employees earning prevailing wages on public construction projects.