Advocacy Update

How To Join The National Apartment Association Lawsuit

Apartment owners have an opportunity to attempt to recover business losses attributed to the unlawful CDC eviction moratorium. The National Apartment Association has filed a lawsuit against the federal government seeking compensation for the financial damages suffered under the CDC order. For more information about this story, read the NAA Sues Federal Government to Recover Industry’s Losses Under Nationwide Eviction Moratorium article.

The rental housing industry needs eligible property owners to join the NAA lawsuit and requests all industry stakeholders share the urgency and importance of this message with all property owners in your networks.

Please visit the link below for the opportunity to join the National Apartment Association’s lawsuit https://www.naahq.org/CDC-eviction-moratorium-lawsuit

NAHB Legal Win Means All PPP Loans to Members Can be Forgiven
According to the National Association of Home Builders, in a recent issue of NAHB Now, in a case brought by NAHB and Michigan builders, a federal court ruled that all NAHB members who received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans can have their loans forgiven regardless of whether the loans were made in contravention of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) eligibility rules. The court’s opinion also provides several important procedural wins that will benefit NAHB in a wide range of cases.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ruled on September 28, 2021 that the SBA wrongly applied eligibility criteria to the PPP, which prevented certain NAHB members from accessing these much-needed funds.

NAHB, along with the HBA of Michigan and HBA of Southeastern Michigan filed the lawsuit at the height of the pandemic-induced economic downturn so that all NAHB members could access PPP funds to help keep their businesses afloat.

While Congress was clear in its intent to offer PPP protection to a wide range of the U.S. economy, Treasury and SBA nonetheless applied pre-existing regulations that essentially shut out a broad swath of the residential construction industry. Specifically, SBA imposed a pre-existing regulation and guidance document that limited eligibility for certain businesses, including “passive businesses owned by developers and landlords that do not actively use or occupy the assets acquired or improved with the loan proceeds,” and “speculative businesses” that include “building homes for future sale.”

Legal Win Accomplishes Two Key Objectives
The victory in this case accomplishes two main goals. First, it ensures that NAHB members who received PPP loans will have their loans forgiven. The judge agreed with NAHB’s position that the plain language of the statute creating the PPP prevented SBA from applying eligibility regulations that sought to exclude NAHB members who build homes “on spec,” multifamily property owners, and land developers from receiving PPP loans and loan forgiveness during the height of the pandemic.

While PPP funding is no longer available, the forgiveness process is ongoing, and the court’s opinion will have a direct and tangible benefit for builders, developers, and property owners who are awaiting loan forgiveness.

Second, the court’s opinion provides important procedural wins. These include the court’s ruling that it will not defer to an agency’s interpretation of a statute unless the statute is truly ambiguous. This will limit the ability of federal agencies to offer new, expansive interpretations of existing statutes.

The judge also ruled against the government’s procedural claims that NAHB lacked “standing” – the individual interest necessary to have a complaint heard in federal court – and that the case was moot because the PPP is no longer an active program.

The decision is a victory on the substantive points NAHB raised against the imposition of SBA’s eligibility rules, providing NAHB members with certainty that their loans will be forgiven, as well as establishing favorable case law on procedural issues that the government and others often use to try and keep NAHB and its members out of court.

For more information, contact Amy Chai of NAHB at: achai@nahb.org.

Posted in 2021, November 2021 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Intro To OSHA

Written by Daniel Aday, CompOne Administrators Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist

During the mid-1900s, there was public outcry about the amount of deaths and serious injuries that occurred at work. People were tired of hearing about worker fatalities happening so frequently and losing their loved ones at work. Great pressure was put on the current administrations to do something about it. On December 29, 1970, President Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which later created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which started the OSHA we know today back in April 1971. Employers are now required to report fatalities to OSHA within eight hours, report select serious injuries within 24 hours, maintain injury and illness logs, inform workers about how to report injuries to the employer, make safety records available to workers, allow OSHA access to records and post annual summaries of injuries and illnesses, as well as many other items. While OSHA governs at the federal level, many states have their own programs, including Michigan with MIOSHA. Employers have to comply with both the federal and state regulations.

OSHA logs are an important aspect of compliance for an employer. OSHA has three logs that have to be maintained by employers with more than 10 employees throughout the previous calendar year. The first log is the most well-known: the OSHA 300 log, which is the Log of Work-Related recordable Injuries and Illnesses. When an incident occurs where an employee is injured, and it is considered a recordable incident, it must be recorded on this log with basic information describing what happened and how it happened. A recordable incident is any injury that resulted in death, loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work activity or job transfer or medical treatment beyond first aid. If an employer has multiple sites, there should be a log for each site. The other two logs are the OSHA 301 and the 300A. The OSHA 301 log is essentially your company’s incident and injury report that should be filled out for each individual injury/illness, and kept for at least five years. This form can be replaced by a company specific report, if desired. The 300A log is the year’s summary of all recordable injuries and illnesses for the previous year. This log must be posted in an obvious location every year for all employees to be able to see.

OSHA’s “General Duty Clause” is one of the most cited regulations in all of OSHA’s requirements. It is the requirement of the employer to furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards and to comply with all other OSH standards within the OSH Act. Essentially, if an employer recognizes that there is a serious hazard that has any potential for serious injury or death, they are legally required to mitigate or eliminate that hazard. Additionally, the General Duty Clause also provides rules to employees that they must follow OSHA standards, regulations and orders, so compliance is not just simply put on the employer to follow. Alongside this clause, there are several specific standards that, if applicable to the scope of work, all employees must follow. These specific standards range from personal protective equipment, to powered industrial truck usage.

OSHA can be very strict with consequences for non-compliance on some topics, but be a bit more relaxed on others. While the most important reason to be in compliant with OSHA is to ensure the safest working condition for all employees, and even guests, visitors, and residents to the areas you are working in, there are fines and penalties issued to employers who do not follow applicable standards. The current maximum penalty for an “other-than-serious posting requirement” is $13,653 per violation, “failure to abate” violations are $13,653 per day beyond the abatement date and “willful or repeated” violations are $136,532 per violation. These costs tend to be a fraction of indirect costs that can come from an injury, however.

If you, or your company is looking for assistance with OSHA compliance, procedure writing or training, please reach out to us at safety@compone.net.

Posted in 2021, November 2021 | Comments Off on Intro To OSHA

Active Attacker: How To Respond

Written by Daniel Aday, CompOne Administrators Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist

Although extremely rare, Active Attacker situations have become something that is, unfortunately, more and more common. The annually recorded events have steadily increased ever since the mid 70s when data was first collected. While the way people and companies are preparing for these tragic events is improving every single year, the information on how to respond to the situations has generally stayed the same. When faced with an active attacker, shooter or malicious assailant, there are three courses of action that you can take that may save your life: Run, Hide or Fight.

Run
While being able to recognize an active attacker situation may sound easy, more often than not, people have a hard time believing it is occurring and do not respond quickly. This first step in responding to such an event is to recognize that it’s happening and remove yourself from the situation. Do not have a pre-planned exit route or designated meeting spot that is dedicated for such an event. If the attacker becomes aware of such a route or meeting location, they may set up at that location. Evacuate and run in the complete opposite direction of the attacker and do not stop until you feel safe. Then go a bit further. Everything is up for grabs during an evacuation. Use windows, fire exits or “staff only” areas as means of egress, if needed. If someone that you are with does not want to evacuate, attempt to encourage them to leave. If they do not want to go, leave without them.

Hide
If running or escaping seems to increase your chances of being seen by the attacker, or if the exits are blocked, your next best means of action is to hide or seek shelter. Hiding is sometimes your best option, but if you do hide … then make sure you are truly hidden. If you are in a room, turn off the lights. If you are near a TV, computer or radio, turn it off to give the appearance that no one was there. Silence your phone! Nothing quite says, “Hey, I am right here” like a phone ringer going off or a text or email alert. Ensure that you do not make noise and always have it in the back of your head to run if the opportunity presents itself or if the attacker has moved out of sight. While hiding behind things that are bullet proof is preferred, sometimes concealment is just as good as protective cover. Use door locks, chairs, desks or anything else available to barricade doors and slow the attacker down.

Fight
It would be hard to train for a physical altercation between yourself and an attacker, and generally hard for companies to tell their employees that they need to put up a fight or to attack an intruder, but in a life or death situation you need to do just that. Only as a last means of effort, you want to exert as much energy as possible in dealing damage to the attacker. It is never a good idea to go looking for the attacker and try to “take them down” unless you are a trained law enforcement officer. Only attack if there is no means of safe exit or there is nowhere else to hide. Use anything you have nearby to increase damage to the attacker. Take a moment now to think about all the items you work with or near that could be used as a weapon in such a situation.
Other considerations to think about are interactions with law enforcement officers. Police are going to be in a heightened state of alertness. Ensure that any time you see an officer, your hands are empty and are up so they can immediately tell if you are the attacker or not. If you are a Concealed Pistol License (CPL) holder and are actively carrying, it may be wise to not bring out your concealed weapon unless you are faced with the “fight situation,” as police may mistake you for the attacker.

If you’re interested in more in-depth training on this topic, you may reach out to us at safety@compone.net.

Posted in 2021, October 2021 | Comments Off on Active Attacker: How To Respond

At Home Safety

Written By Daniel Aday, CompOne Administrators Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist

When most think of the word “safety” they will most likely relate it to some means of occupational activity like construction, office ergonomics or manufacturing. What we don’t necessarily think about is all the safety that is required at home. Even though it may be the place where you find yourself the most comfortable, it may also contain hazards that could potentially harm you, your pets or family. While there are several types of hazards, they can all be grouped into two categories to determine how to protect yourself in the best possible way: Health Hazards and Physical Hazards.

Health Hazards can be classified as anything that could cause illness to you or anyone else in your household. This can range from carbon monoxide poisoning, to accidental drug usage, to radon poisoning, to chemical poisoning. The National Safety Council estimates that 52,000 people were killed in their homes in 2017 due to poison related incidents. Employers are required to keep inventory of what hazardous substances are on-property. You should ensure that you keep an inventory (or an idea) of what is in your house! For things you can’t control, such as dangerous gasses and vapors, get CO detectors (and regularly change the batteries), other gas monitors and conduct annual radon tests. Radon should not only be measured when you first purchase a house. Summer levels of radon may be very different than winter levels, so ensure that you test in different seasons.

Chemicals, such as cleaners, solvents, oils, paints, detergents and anything else found in the garage or under the kitchen or bathroom sink, should all be consolidated as much as possible. If there are infants or young children in the house, place any liquid that should not be consumed, high up on a shelf or in a locked cabinet. Stop what you are doing right now and put in the Poison Control’s Hotline in your phone: 1-800-222-1222. You never know when you are going to need it! Ensure that when using cleaners, you do not mix ingredients that should not mix, such as bleach and anything with ammonia in it (which can create a mustard gas) or vinegar. Be careful not to leave out any type of medicine, OTC or prescribed. Not all medicine is labeled with what it is in the pill itself and you do not want to guess what it is. Do your part to protect the health of everyone in your home.

Physical Hazards are going to be just about everything else in your home that could cause injury or property damage, such as house fires, slippery floors and stairs without railings. Most accidents occur in two locations – bathroom and kitchen. That is because this is where there are generally slick surfaces, sharp objects, hot appliances and, typically, a lot more traffic.

Let’s address the most common concern first: home fires. Fires can result from a few different areas – cooking in the kitchen, portable heaters and electrical fires and smoking or candles. When in the kitchen, always keep an eye on things on the stove and in the oven. Never leave them unattended. Keep all your appliances, furnace, portable heaters, and all electrical cords, panels and objects up to date. Hire a professional for repairs if you are unsure of how to fix them. While candles can create lovely smells in the house, they should never be left in a room unattended, especially with pets in the home. Also, there should always be a fire extinguisher on every level of your home. Make sure it is inspected regularly.

The second biggest concern is slips, trips and falls, which is not only a concern for the elderly, but for all ages. Keep all hallways and high-traffic areas free of clutter and well-lit at night. Installing a second handrail on all your steps will reduce the chance of falling up or down the stairs. This includes the front porch, upstairs and downstairs. In the bathroom, use non-slip pads or traction stickers to prevent shower slips. And lastly, keep your home clean and your likelihood of injury will decrease!

For additional information, feel free to reach out to me, Daniel Aday, at daday@compone.net or at 734-309-3456.

Posted in 2021, SEPTEMBER 2021 | Comments Off on At Home Safety

Advocacy Update

Forrest Wall March 2021Written by Forrest Wall, CAE, Director of Regulatory & Legal Affairs, Home Builders Association of Michigan

Governor Whitmer Signs Additional Renter Assistance Legislation
On June 23rd, Governor Whitmer signed legislation appropriating over $2.2 billion in federal stimulus funding. Of that total, $378.3 million is directed for additional renter assistance via the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) Program. You may recall the CERA program was originally started in March with a $282 million appropriation of federal funds. That initial funding was exhausted in June, so the additional funding will allow the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to continue rent and utility assistance under CERA. The program assists rental households at or below 80% of area median income (AMI) who can show a COVID related financial hardship.

Legislation Would Restore Proper Code Promulgation In Michigan
An important piece of legislation for multifamily builders is receiving bipartisan support in the legislature. The legislation, introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives as House Bill 4648 and in the Michigan Senate as Senate Bill 363, would restore a long-standing practice of using advisory committees to develop Michigan’s construction codes. For more than four decades codes were thoughtfully reviewed by these broad-based committees which consisted of experts in each respective code. In 2018, however, the Department of Licensing and Regulation abandoned the use of committees in favor of a two-person review which operates with little transparency and limited public participation. HB 4648 is currently before the House Committee on Regulatory Reform, while SB 363 will be considered by the Senate Committee on Economic and Small Business Development.

Supreme Court Delays Personal ID Rule
On June 30th, one day before the effective date, the Michigan Supreme Court issued orders delaying a new rule which would negatively impact tenant background screening services. The rule, originally drafted in May 2019, calls for the redacting of birth dates from court records in Michigan. Although the intent of the rule is to protect personal identification information, background screening companies have complained it will significantly delay or even stop background checks in Michigan by restricting date of birth information. The Supreme Court action delays the effective date of the rule until January 1, 2022 to allow more time to craft a solution to the problem.

Posted in 2021, August 2021 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update