January marks the beginning of my third and final year as NECA’s president. I certainly can say I’ve enjoyed the experience, and I’m happy to report we’re a growing organization that has made tremendous strides. There is a lot to look forward to. That includes NECA 2017 Seattle in October, succeeding the rousing 2016 convention in Boston.
However, I’m possibly not the president you have top of mind. It’s important to talk about the U.S. presidential election’s impact. A new occupant in the White House and a new Congress to work with means new and different relationships and opportunities will take center stage. NECA will remain committed to being electrical construction’s leading voice on Capitol Hill. Our government affairs team, led by Marco Giamberardino, works tirelessly on behalf of the industry to advocate for you and your companies. Among the issues expected to be analyzed and debated in Washington this year are comprehensive tax reform, infrastructure investment and the possible rollback of a host of regulations.
Speaking of the nation’s capital, it can be a busy place. In December, for instance, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued recommended practices for safety and health programs in construction to help industry employers, such as electrical contractors, develop proactive programs to keep their workplaces safe. OSHA believes the recommendations may be particularly helpful to small- and medium-sized contractors that don’t have safety and health specialists on staff. I think that is the case. OSHA listened to the construction industry’s concerns, and these recommendations will certainly benefit smaller contractors.
Construction sites differ from one job to another, and multiemployer job sites offer many challenges for contractors. According to OSHA, 4,821 workers died on the job in 2014, the most recent year in which statistics are available. You might have seen or met Wes Wheeler, NECA’s director of safety, at events around the country. He is dedicated to leading our safety efforts and providing you with the information you need to make smart decisions. ECs know the importance of health and safety programs in the workplace, but it’s worth repeating something shared by OSHA: These programs encourage finding and fixing workplace hazards before they cause injuries, illnesses and deaths. Implementing these programs also helps reduce the financial difficulties these events can cause for workers, their families and their employers.
Technology is another area that is constantly evolving and affecting the way ECs do their jobs. Joey Shorter, NECA’s director of research, has an extensive background in education and experience in translating the work of academics into understandable, practical ideas. As part of his initiative, he has been reviewing research and presenting ideas to help determine the impact technology might bring to your business. I will continue to be a strong supporter of a forward-looking approach that encourages ECs to stay innovative and embrace change.
As a leader in the electrical construction industry, I’m enthusiastic about exploring ways to be successful. I hope you are, too. Feel free to reach out with questions or concerns in the days and months ahead. Happy New Year!