Drivers from Ballard to West Seattle are familiar with the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel project. As they drive to and from downtown, they notice that the southern end of the Viaduct has been removed to make way for work on the south portal. But the Viaduct replacement project is not the only big tunnel

On January 6, 2011, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) signed a contract with Seattle Tunnel Partners for the biggest piece of the SR 99 Viaduct replacement project, the 1.7 mile long tunnel carrying traffic from the south end of the Seattle waterfront to near the Seattle Center.  This is a design-build contract with

Now that the holiday frenzy has wound down, many have overlooked the necessity of updating their mechanic’s lien procedures in California. Effective January 1, 2011, prevailing California law imposes new requirements and notice procedures for effective lien actions on mechanic’s lien claimants. These changes immediately affect the preparation, service, and recordation of mechanic’s lien claims. California Civil Code

OSHA compliance recently became harder and costlier, and may continue to do so, thanks to several developments at the federal and state level. (Click here for a prior post on OSHA reform.)

You may go to prison if you discipline or terminate an employee who might be worried about an unsafe working condition—even though your employee had not bothered to tell you about his concern. That is what the current version of the Robert C. Byrd Miner Safety and Health Act of 2010 (H.R. 5663) provides.

The Byrd Act, not yet law, would prohibit firing or discriminating against an employee who refuses to perform the his duties if he “has a reasonable apprehension that performing such duties would result in serious injury to, or serious impairment of the health of, the employee or other employees.” Employers should wonder how they will know whether their employees have “reasonable apprehensions”—the Act does not require the employee to voice his apprehension for this provision to protect him from discrimination for failing to do his work. If the Act becomes law, an employer who fires an employee because that employee is not performing may find itself faced with a complaint.

The Byrd Act has not moved since July 29, 2010, when it was placed on the Union Calendar. Depending on the results of the recent elections, it may not move at all.

If your business has an effective noise protection program in place, that may not protect you from OSHA penalties.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently proposed adopting a new interpretation of the word “feasible” as it is used in certain sections of the General Industry and Construction Occupational Noise Exposure standards (sections 1910.95(b)(1) and 1926.52(b)).

Feasible, which currently means that a measure is both capable of being done and that the costs of implementing the measure are less than the cost of an effective hearing conservation program, would only mean capable of being done. If you have avoided certain measures because they were not economically feasible, and if OSHA determines that they were capable of being done, your program will not be in compliance.

For example, if your employees are exposed to a loud workplace but you require them to wear effective ear protection—and they do—this will not be good enough. If OSHA decides that redesigning your workplace with expensive sound-absorbing baffles is capable of being done, you have to do it. Even if it would be no more effective than your current program.

Instead of allowing a cost-benefit analysis, the Administration would consider administrative or engineering controls economically feasible when the cost of implementing those controls will “not threaten the employer’s ability to remain in business.” So, if OSHA decides those sound-absorbing baffles won’t threaten your ability to remain in business, they are economically feasible. Oddly, though the Administration argues that its proposal restores the “plain meaning” of feasible to its enforcement policies by eliminating cost-benefit analyses, it did not state how it derived its proposed economic viability standard from that plain meaning.

The Economic Loss Rule plays an important part in construction disputes, but it has not been clearly defined or understood, or so the Washington Supreme Court has recently stated. The Economic Loss Rule has been generally described as applying to “economic damages” in cases where the plaintiff has a contract that addresses or could reasonably address the

In November 2009 the Washington State Building Code Council (“WSBCC”) approved amendments to the Washington State Residential Energy Code imposing additional energy efficiency requirements for newly permitted homes.  The controversial changes, found in Chapter 9 of the new Code, are scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2010.

The new regulation at issue requires that

Do you think you have adequate insurance protection for your project under an “additional insured endorsement” to another entity’s policy? Or through a “wrap” policy, known as either an Owner’s Controlled Insurance Policy (OCIP) or Contractor’s Controlled Insurance Policy (CCIP), because you are listed as “an insured”? Perhaps not under more recent policies. Check the

In an effort to stimulate the economy, federal and state government agencies are seeking to promote new construction projects. This trend of government involvement in construction projects is likely to continue. When the government is involved, it is important to know whether this involvement causes public contracting laws to apply.

Governmental involvement in a construction