Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Worker Safety - Not So Top Five MIOSHA List Unveiled

The Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration (MIOSHA) has released its new five-year strategic plan.  To no one’s surprise, making construction (including residential construction) safer is at the top of its list.  Their plan calls for decreasing fatalities in the construction industry by 2% a year by focusing on the four leading causes of fatalities:
·      Falls
·      Electrocutions
·      Struck-by
·      Crushed-by/caught-between

It also calls for reducing injuries and illnesses in the construction industry by 1% a year over the five years.

MIOSHA has also provided the Home Builders Association of Michigan with the five most frequent serious violations they find during residential inspections.  With a tip of the hat to David Letterman:

Number Five: No eye protection while cutting/grinding/drilling/sanding.
Eye protection is required where a hazard or risk of injury exists from flying objects or particles, harmful contacts, exposures such as glare, liquids, injurious radiation, electrical flash, or a combination of these hazards. Employers must require their employees to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when the rules call for it or you’re the one who will face fines and other penalties.

Number Four: Portable ladders not extended 3 feet above the landing area.
When portable ladders are used for access to an upper landing surface, the ladder side rails have to extend not less than 3 feet above the upper landing surface the ladder is being used to access. If the ladder is too short to extend the required 3 feet then it has to be secured at its top to rigid support that will not deflect.  And a grasping device, such as a grabrail, shall be provided to assist employees in mounting and dismounting the ladder.

Number Three:  No eye protection while using pneumatic nail guns.
Not only do you have to provide (and your employees have to wear) eye protection when they’re using a portable powered stapler or nailer, any employees within the striking distance of its fastener have to wear eye protection too. Remember your employees must wear PPE when the rules call for it or you will be fined and subject to other penalties.

Number Two:  No hard hats.
If your employees are working in an area where a hazard or risk of injury exists from falling or flying objects or particles or from other harmful contacts or exposures you must provide them with a hard hat and make sure they wear it.  Again, if your employee isn’t wearing a hard hat when it is required, you will be the one with a headache.

And finally, Number One:  No fall protection at six feet or higher.
We’ve been talking about these fall protection regulations since April of 2011. Half of the residential construction fatalities in the last two years have been fall-related. As an industry, we, and as an employer, you, have to do everything possible to make the work site safe.

Much of the information on fall protection you need, including training, is available from MIOSHA at no cost. This training will also count toward your continuing competency requirements for license renewal.

For compliance assistance, contact the Consultation Education and Training (CET) Division at (517) 322-1809 or go to

For MIOSHA seminars and other training opportunities, visit

Additional resources are also available on the MIOSHA website at in the MIOSHA Initiatives section, under Residential Construction Initiative.

For information on Fall Protection, please contact the Construction Safety and Health Division at (517) 322-1856, or visit the website at

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New Board of Directors

Congratulations to our new HBAGTA Board of Directors
Who will serve from January 1, 2014 – December 31, 2016

Carolyn Andrews - Preston Feather Building Centers
Bill Archer - Archer Contracting Company
Mike Farrer - Traverse Area Title Service, Inc.
Nancy Lisabeth - Grand Bay Building & Remodeling, LLC
Rick MacKinnon - Anderson Window Corporation
Sean McCardel - Sean McCardel Construction

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Waste & Pesticide Collection

Household Hazardous Waste & Pesticide Collection
to be held In Kingsley, Mi.

GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY RESOURCE RECOVERY DEPARTMENT (RecycleSmart) will conduct a Household Hazardous

Waste & Pesticide collection on Saturday, September 28, 2013 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Event will be held at the Grand Traverse County Road Commission building at 1471 E. M-113, Kingsley, MI.

An appointment is required.

The online scheduling system is a convenient and the recommended tool to secure an appointment. An appointment is required and can be made at or by calling the RecycleSmart Hotline at 941.5555.

This service is provided to Grand Traverse County residents at no cost, (up to 150 lbs., $1.30 lb. thereafter) Accepted material includes oil based paints (latex paint is also accepted this year), cleaning products, pesticides, mercury, moth balls, pool chemicals and more...

For more information visit are call the RecycleSmart Hotline at 941.5555

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Depot Project - Habitat for Humanity

Depot Project RFP Deadline August 1st

Habitat for Humanity has announced that prints of the Depot Project are now available.  To obtain a copy, contractors must call Traverse Repro at 947-6284.  The deadline for the RFP is August 1st.

For more general information, contact Stephanie at Habitat at 941-4663 x124.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Three Steps That Could Save Builders $42,000 per Home

The residential construction industry is facing building code proposals that could significantly impact the design and cost of new homes and directly harm every builder’s and remodeler’s ability to complete a quality project at an affordable cost.

Participation in the complex codes development process is one of the most important ways that NAHB provides value to members. At recent International Code Council (ICC) code development hearings, the association was successful in helping defeat many proposals that would add greatly to the cost of building single-family homes and apartments as well as the cost of remodeling projects.

If NAHB is ultimately successful on all 750 code change proposals that the association took a position on, the overall cost savings could be more than $42,000 per home.

One of the proposals struck down in the initial round of hearings would mandate a second set of stairs in larger homes. Another would have required all homes and townhouses to be accessible, including homes in flood and coastal areas where it is impossible to meet the requirements without the installation of a wheelchair lift or elevator.

These and more than 2,000 other proposed code changes could increase the cost of building even the most modest home by tens of thousands of dollars.

ICC is working on the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code, International Residential Code, International Fire Code, International Existing Building Code and the International Property Maintenance Code.

The ICC Committee Action Hearings were held in Dallas in late April. At the conclusion of the preliminary hearings, NAHB was successful on 596 of the 750 code change proposals that it either supported or opposed.

However, these aren't the final results. The last and most important phase of the code development process occurs this fall at the ICC Final Action Hearings in Atlantic City, N.J. on Oct. 2-10. The code officials who attend these hearings will cast the votes that will decide the final outcome on all 2,065 proposed code changes.

Three Steps to Lock in Savings

To ensure that NAHB’s success in the preliminary hearings translates to the same results in the Final Action hearings this fall, it is absolutely vital for builders and remodelers to get involved in the process early and to fight hard by taking the following actions:

Meet with your state and local code officials and elected officials to gain their support. Make sure they understand the issues, and help them see why they should vote in favor of the home building industry’s key proposals.

For example, four of the most critical code change proposals are related to energy efficiency and would allow equipment and performance trade-offs if passed. Approval of just these four code change proposals could save more than $4,000 per home.

Get your local HBA involved and let them know that this is a top priority for the residential construction industry.

Ask your elected officials to allow their code officials to attend the ICC Final Action Hearings in Atlantic City, N.J. so they can vote in support of NAHB’s positions. Remember, this year, code officials must still be present in Atlantic City to vote during the Final Action Hearings.

Resources You Need

NAHB has the tools and resources necessary to help builders, remodelers and state and local HBAs to effectively engage their local and state government and industry leaders. NAHB is calling on all members to take these action steps to help ensure that only those code changes that are necessary, practical, and cost effective will be approved during the ICC Final Action Hearings.

Calling All Code Experts

NAHB is looking for HBA member code experts as the association tries to ensure that the International Code Council’s (ICC) model building codes include only provisions that benefit home buyers’ health and safety or have reasonable payback periods. Some of the proposed code changes related to energy conservation provide very little benefit if any and have payback periods ranging from 15 to 40 years. If you can help, please contact your EO.

In addition, please visit, click on your state and email Steve Orlowski with the email address and phone number for the code officials identified within your state or jurisdiction. NAHB has their names, but not their contact information, so your assistance is crucial in this regard.

No Time to Look Backward—What Are HBA Michigan’s Top Priorities Here and Now?

On the heels of what many of our longtime members tell me is the state association’s most successful year ever—in terms of advocacy and reforming tax and regulatory policies impacting the building industry, I’m often asked how HBA Michigan is following-up on the banner year of 2012. My response: (1)by being diligent in sustaining recent legislative and regulatory victories; (2) identifying strategies and solutions to a looming building industry worker shortage; (3) staying on offense for additional reforms that encourage more housing investment across the state; and (4) supporting local HBA membership growth to strengthen our voice as an industry.

Diligence: last year your state association was successful in eliminating 18 mils of taxation on inventory homes. Now some are suggesting that this change only reduces the tax on the building structure itself (not the property). Needless-to-say, your state association is working behind the scenes to ensure that this "interpretation" not take root. Similarly, last year your state association ushered in a historic set of changes to development rules for construction in and around our state’s critical dunes. Some are now trying to circumvent these changes thru administrative channels. Your state association is on guard and has interceded in several instances to make sure bureaucrats don’t disregard the new rules. Last year your state association was also able to get a new law passed that moves our state to a new flex-code cycle, so that code changes only have to occur once every 6 years instead of every 3. But, this new cycle only begins after this year’s revision to the state uniform construction code. So, your state association and a dedicated committee of builders from around the state are working to ensure that this year’s changes only include those that are absolutely necessary and justified.

Worker Shortage: this year we are supporting legislation (HB 4465 & HB 4466) that will allow curriculum flexibility enabling more kids to enter construction voc ed programs around the state. The large majority of kids interested in such programs are turned away. Why, because scheduling and availability of language and Algebra II courses would make it impossible for them to graduate on time if they entered the construction program. We believe parents ought to have the flexibility to get their children into these hands on programs (and still be able to graduate). We’re also working with the Construction Teacher’s Association, your local association, and others to try and develop better networks and communication strategies to connect potential workers with builders, remodelers and contractors. Some members may not yet see shortages in their areas, but they are coming. Too many workers were lost in our industry during the downturn (some 70,000 jobs were lost). Even modest growth has begun to trigger shortages.

Staying on Offense: much like the changes to our State’s rules for development in critical dunes that were passed into law last year, this year we are seeking to reform Michigan’s wetlands law to avoid turning wetland permits over to the EPA and the Army Corp. Additionally, bills will soon be introduced to allow more flexible options for new septic systems. We also have bills in the works to make sure taxable values don’t spike when homes are rebuilt after a fire or other tragedy; and to eliminate the 18 mils of property taxes on any remaining inventory homes built before last year’s change went into effect. And, we are supporting legislation that would allow the Michigan State Housing Development Authority provide gap financing for development, since no (or few) private lenders are financing inventory homes or developments.

Not only does HBA Michigan work on a daily basis in the legislative, regulatory and judicial arenas, we have to be involved in the political arena. Friends-of-Housing (FOH) is your association’s political action

committee and voice in the election process. While the 2014 elections seem a ways off the work for success in those elections is already underway. This means raising money. FOH will be involved (in one way or another) with almost every race on the ballot. From the Governor’s race on down to the 38 state senate seats that will be on the ballot to the 110 state representative races taking place around the state…to three Supreme Court seats. We can’t sit on the sidelines in the political arena if we want to continue to see successes in the legislative, legal and regulatory worlds. So, next time you’re asked to lend your financial support to Friends of Housing, please remember this reality and contribute.

Membership Growth: HBA Michigan cannot be successful without strong local HBAs. Your state association is investing in one-on-one membership recruitment and retention training for local HBA E.O.s’ this year. Nearly a dozen have already signed up for this training. Your state association is also working to expand and improve member-only benefits and discounts. A copyright infringement insurance program has been developed (and no other such coverage can be obtained unless you’re a member). We’ve also started offering a new telemedicine service among others. These along with our long-valued Meijer, Speedway, Frankenmuth and other programs provide an important tool for locals to retain and grow their membership.

Bottom line: HBA Michigan is the only statewide organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the interests of the residential building industry. If you are in the industry and are reading this, but aren’t a member of an HBA, I hope you conclude that you need to be. For members, please know we’re always just a phone call away. Don’t ever hesitate calling me directly if you have a question or need assistance. My number is 517-646-2555.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

MIOSHA Hazard Alert - Nail Guns

MIOSHA Hazard Alert
Construction Safety & Health Division
Dangers of Pneumatic Nail Guns With Contact Trip Triggers
In February 2013, MIOSHA investigated a fatality that occurred at a residential jobsite where a carpenter was framing a wall and ended up shooting himself in the face with a 3 inch nail from a pneumatic nail gun.  The carpenter was in an awkward position and using his non-dominant hand to operate the nail gun.  The gun appeared to have “double fired” which knocked the carpenter off balance.  The tip of the nail gun contacted his face near the eye area and another nail fired into his head which lodged in his brain.  The victim was not wearing eye protection or head protection which may have prevented the nail from entering the victim’s face.   

Pneumatic nail gun injuries are very common in the residential construction industry; responsible for nearly 40,000 visits to emergency room each year.  Most nail gun injuries occur when the gun is equipped with a contact tip trigger. Contact tip triggers allow the gun to discharge a nail anytime the gun’s nose piece and the trigger are pressed.  The user can hold the trigger down and bump fire the gun repeatedly by simply pushing down on the nose piece.  Carpenters prefer using contact tip triggers because they are faster.  However, these types of triggers also make it much easier for the operator to accidently shoot themselves or anyone standing close by if the nose piece bumps up against someone or something when the trigger is depressed.  Injuries often occur when climbing up and down ladders while having your finger on the trigger.

Nail guns with contact tip triggers are also susceptible to double firing which is the firing of a second unwanted nail that can ricochet off the first nail which can strike and injure anyone working in the proximity. 

Full sequential triggers are safer!  They force the operator to make two positive actions to fire the nail gun each and every time a nail is fired. The full sequential trigger will only fire a nail when the controls are activated in a certain order.  First, the safety contact tip must be pushed into the work piece and then the operator squeezes the trigger to discharge a nail.  Both the safety contact tip and the trigger must be released and activated again to fire a second nail.  The operator cannot hold the trigger down and bump fire the nail gun.  This greatly reduces the amount of unwanted “double fires” of nails.

Most new pneumatic nail guns come equipped with the full sequential trigger.  A contact trip trigger is a separate attachment that can replace the full sequential trigger.  Employees must know and follow the safety guidelines provided by the manufacturers of nail guns and wear the appropriate personal protective equipment to prevent injuries.

General Safety Guidelines for Pneumatic Nail Guns

         Review the owner’s manual carefully with all operators.

         Observe each employee demonstrating safe operating procedures.

         Always wear safety glasses and a hard hat!

         Do not touch the trigger unless firing the tool against a work piece.

         Use extreme caution when using an air tool around other workers.

         Never point the tool at anyone. Treat the tool like a firearm and assume it is loaded.

         Disconnect the air hose before clearing a jam or making adjustments.

         Use manufacturer’s specified pressures for the tool.

         Keep your free hand safely out of the way of the tool.

       •          Secure the hose when working on scaffolding to prevent the tool from falling.

For Additional Information

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a publication titled, “Nail Gun Safety: A Guide for Construction Contractors” to help alert and provide training to avoid hazards when using nail guns. Go to

For additional training and assistance contact the Consultation Education and Training Division at or call 517-322-1809.