ConsensusDocs™ releases agreement

ConsensusDocs has released ConsensusDocs 297 Joint Venture Line Item agreement, the first standard line item to accommodate joint ventures between contractors, construction managers, design professionals and other parties.

"This agreement makes it easier for multiple parties to combine efforts, expertise and resources, share project risks, and meet socioeconomic goals of federal programs," says Kory D. George, partner at Woods & Aitken LLP, Denver, and chair of the ConsensusDocs joint venture working group.

The new, additional standardized form is said to simplify the process of getting contracts signed and work performed for companies working on joint ventures. It can be used during the teaming or proposal development stages, as well as for project performance.

For more information about the agreement, visit www.consensusdocs.org.

IRS questions small-business income

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has started sending letters to small businesses questioning whether they are underreporting business income. The initiative is aimed at boosting federal tax receipts, ensuring compliance and combating the problem of businesses failing to report all-cash sales to minimize tax bills.

The letters don't constitute as audits but are meant to act as a request for more information. As the program intensifies, the IRS will send about 20,000 letters. Although 20,000 represents a small portion of the estimated millions of U.S. small businesses, tax accountants expect the program to expand.

As a result of a 2008 change in the law that provides the IRS broader access to merchants' credit and debit card transaction records, the IRS has been comparing data with tax returns. If the data suggests an unusually large percentage of receipts come from credit card transactions, the IRS might send a letter to the business owner requesting an explanation why cash receipts seem relatively low.

A typical letter has a "Notification of Possible Income Underreporting" headline and begins with, "Your gross receipts may be underreported." The letter instructs business owners to complete a form and explain within 30 days why their cash receipts appear unusually low. Additional taxes, penalties and interest could be imposed if the matter is not resolved within 30 days.

More information is available at www.irs.gov.

OSHA's eTools help identify fall-protection hazards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) now is offering eTools to help construction employers and workers identify and control the hazards that commonly cause the most serious construction injuries.

Launched April 26, OSHA's Safety Pays, Falls Cost campaign was created to prevent construction-related falls and designed to urge contractors, especially small-sized residential contracting companies, to provide workers with fall-protection training and equipment.

The free eTools are available at www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/construction/index.html.

In addition, OSHA now offers a Spanish-language fall-prevention website for Latino construction contractors and workers. The educational resource page provides workers and employers with information about falls and how to prevent them, including training tools for employers and posters to display at work sites.

To view the website, visit www.osha.gov/stopfalls/spanish/index.html.

Fatal occupational injuries down in 2012

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' recently released National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries shows a reduction in the number of fatal work injuries in 2012 compared with 2011. In 2012, 4,383 workers died from work-related injuries compared with 4,693 in 2011. Based on preliminary counts, the rate of fatal workplace injuries decreased from 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2011 to 3.2 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2012.

"I am greatly encouraged by the reduction in workplace fatalities, even in a growing economy," says Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "It is a testament to the hard work of employers, unions, health and safety professionals, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Through collaborative education and outreach efforts and effective law enforcement, these numbers indicate that we are absolutely moving in the right direction."

More information about the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries can be found at www.dol.gov.

IBHS releases midterm hurricane report

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) released its Rating the States Midterm Update, which reviews the progress the 18 most hurricane-prone coastal states along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean have made to strengthen their residential building codes.

The midterm update to IBHS' Rating the States Report reviews building code activity in the same states featured in IBHS' original report released in January 2012, assessing whether the states have taken positive, negative or no action to improve their codes. The original report provided a state-by-state assessment of individual performance for developing and promulgating a residential building code system. Although the update does not rescore each state, it discusses actions taken, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each state system.

According to IBHS' midterm update, states with strong building code systems in place at the time of the original report remain committed to building safety and continue to update their codes. In comparison, most of the states with low scores in the original report have taken no action to improve their codes, falling further behind best practices. According to the report, Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia have taken positive action in 2013. Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Texas have taken no action. And Louisiana and North Carolina have taken negative action to improve building codes.

The full Rating the States Midterm Update is available on IBHS' Rating the States web page at www.disastersafety.org/featured/ibhs-updates-building-code-rating-report.


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