On July 17, 2019, the Supreme Court of Ohio announced a major victory for the Ohio construction industry in the ongoing battle over whether Ohio’s construction statute of repose, R.C. 2305.131, bars claims for breach of contract as well as tort claims. In New Riegel Local School District v. Buehrer Group Architecture & Engineering, Inc., et al., the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the construction statute of repose does apply to breach-of-contract claims as well as tort claims.

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On March 27, 2019, Home Builders Association of Greater Cleveland President Dean Tompkins and HBA members Josh Edgell and Aaron Evenchik testified in front of Euclid City Council regarding potential residential home construction in the City.  Euclid Councilperson Kristian Jarosz asked the HBA to assist the City in evaluating a 2003 law that required all new residential construction be a minimum of 2,000 square feet.  The City is concerned the law is preventing new development, especially as much of the existing housing stock is less than 2,000 square feet.  HBA members agreed the 2,000 square foot minimum is an impediment to new construction in Euclid.

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On Feb. 1, 2019, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) reversed an OSHA citation issued to Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc., as the controlling employer, for a fall protection violation. In this ruling, the OSHRC found that as a controlling employer, Suncor was not liable for two main reasons. First, it had a robust safety program in place that not only met, but exceeded OSHA’s minimum standards. Second, it had a rigid enforcement program that removed employees from the worksite for a single violation of its fall protection safety procedures. This decision emphasizes that a controlling employer’s safety role is secondary. The OSHRC then concluded that, given the massive scope of the project, Suncor’s robust safety program, and its zealous enforcement efforts, there was insufficient evidence to support a citation.

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On Feb. 28 the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) reversed a citation issued to A.H. Sturgill Roofing, Inc. for the heat-related death of an employee, finding that all of the elements of proof of the violation had not been met by the Secretary of Labor. Sturgill’s citation was for a general duty clause violation for exposing its employee “to the hazard of excessive heat from working on a commercial roof in the direct sun.”[i]   In response to this ruling, the way employers defend against heat-related OSHA citations for violations of the general duty clause may change.

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A draft bill provided to the Ohio legislature from Governor Mike DeWine aimed at addressing Ohio’s transportation infrastructure funding problem is in the works. The Ohio Contractors Association is actively promoting awareness of this development to its membership, which includes important information on the bill’s likely impact on the industry.  For full details, click here