Aug. 20, 2014

Confront Risk with GBA, Oct. 23-25 in San Francisco; Early-Bird Registration Ends Friday
"Confronting Risk for Our Firms and Our Clients: Leading in an Era of Rapid Change" is the theme of GBA's 2014 Fall Conference, October 23-25, at the Westin San Francisco Market Street Hotel in San Francisco. The GBA Conference Committee has put together a fantastic array of speakers, addressing topics like "Legendary Leadership for Changing Times," "Confronting Risk in Emerging Practice Areas," "Winning Negotiating Tactics," and "Value: The A/E/C Industry's Biggest Blind Spot," among others. The conference will also include a series of business roundtables.

GBA members, hurry! August 22 is your last day to save via the early-bird registration fee. Also coming up quickly, September 30: The deadline to make your room reservations. Don't miss this great event!More

Algae Blooms More Common Than Many Think; Will Become Worse
Water & Wastes Digest
The harmful-algal bloom (HAB) problem that shut off Toledo's water supply isn't rare. Kansas, Maryland, Oregon, Wisconsin have also reported HABs this summer, and that's not good: HABs can damage human organs and cause neurological problems, rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. The frequency and severity of HABs are going to get worse, principally because of climate change. Example: Heavy precipitation in Ohio has resulted in a 42% runoff increase since 1995. The growing frequency and severity of droughts may also aggravate the problem, because they increase nutrient concentrations and residence times in streams. A 2009 study estimated that freshwater HABs nationwide cost the U.S. economy as much as $2.2 to $4.6 billion annually. Helping communities prevent such problems would be a valuable service.More

BUSINESS 101: Attention Micromanagers: Stop It!
A new Accountemps survey report is revealing: Almost six of every ten respondents said they work for a micromanager who watches their every move and stifles their independence. And of that near-60%, 68% (about 40% of the entire sample) said the micromanaging boss soured their morale; 55% said it hurt their productivity. According to Accountemps Chair Max Messmer, "Taking a heavy-handed approach typically hurts employee output, job satisfaction and, as a result, retention efforts." Accountemps has a six-step plan to help micromanagers loosen their grips.More

EEOC Issues New Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination
U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues, the first comprehensive guidance update since 1983. (The related issues include application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to individuals with pregnancy-related disabilities.) The new publication is accompanied by Fact Sheet for Small Businesses and a separate Q&A sheet. According to EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien, "[W]e continue to see a significant number of charges alleging pregnancy discrimination, and our investigations have revealed the persistence of overt pregnancy discrimination, as well as the emergence of more subtle discriminatory practices.”More

CoMET Business Council Develops Third CoMET Tales
Dealing with Confusing Language in the Quality-Requirements Section of Construction Specifications is the title of the third publication in the new CoMET Tales series of practice briefings developed by GBA's Construction-Materials Engineering and Testing (CoMET) Business Council. According to the new publication, "One of the biggest flaws of model project specifications is their definitions of QA and QC. For example… MasterSpec defines QA as 'activities, actions and procedures performed before and during execution of the work' and QC as 'tests, inspections, procedures and related actions during and after execution of the work.' This language is made even more confusing by MasterSpec's failure to attach responsibility to QA or QC, instead assigning responsibilities to both constructors and the owner."More

New USGS Tool Makes Coastal Viewing a Day at the Beach
U.S. Geological Survey
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has created an online tool that allows anyone to interactively "see" past, present and future coastal hazards. Called the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal, the tool can help the decision-making process when it comes to emergency preparedness, ecosystem restoration, and where and how to develop coastal areas. The tool runs on web browsers, tablets, and smartphones. "Our nation's coastlines are constantly changing landscapes that pose unique management challenges," said Suzette Kimball, USGS acting director. "This new USGS portal is truly one-of-a-kind, providing a credible foundation for making decisions to protect resources, reduce risk, and prevent economic losses."More

DR. ENGLISH: Workin' It
Which is (or are) correct? A) workman's compensation? B) workmen's compensation? C) worker's compensation? D) workers' compensation? Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock (for some geoprofessionals, that could be research!), you know that A and B are incorrect, having been eliminated because of what some might call "political correctness" or PC, but which others regard as gender bias. "Worker" applies to all people who work, regardless of their gender or anything else. But is it a singular worker or the "workers" plural? After all, it was "workman's compensation," was it not? Yes, it was! Still, the answer is D: workers' compensation. Next issue: Is it A) draftsman? B) draftsperson? C) drafter? C'mon.More

FROM THE BENCH: Insurance Company Fails. Insureds out of Luck.
Think insurers can't fail and leave their insureds holding the proverbial bag? If so, you have another think coming. In the case of Mark Tanner Construction v. HUB International Insurance Services (224 Cal. App. 4th, 574 (2014)), an insurance broker marketed and sold a workers' compensation program for contractors. When the insurer went belly up, the insureds — facing severe liabilities — sued the broker on the ground it should have vetted the insurer more carefully. The case was dismissed because, the court ruled, brokers are not duty-bound to investigate insurers. All of which points out why it is essential to know an insurer's BCAR score before signing up. BCAR is the best indicator of an insurer's creditworthiness; i.e., whether or not it'll be around in the future, when you may need it.More

PROFESSIONAL SELLING: Getting More Good Trade-Show Traffic
Small Business Trends
Many GBA-Member Firms exhibit at trade shows. So do many other organizations, making the competition for attendees' time and attention a vigorous one, especially considering the amount of money that typically is spent to obtain that time and attention. What can you do to attract more solid prospects to your booth? Probably more than you’re doing right now! Read about four strategies you probably have not thought about using…until now! More

STEM: There Must Be a Better Way!
U.S. Census Bureau
What are we doing wrong? The U.S. Census Bureau reports that three of every four persons with a bachelor's degree in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM-BA) are working in something other than a STEM occupation. About half of those who majored in engineering, computers, math, or statistics land a STEM job. The rate falls to 26% of those who concentrated on physical science, 10% for psychology majors, and 7% for those who studied social science. And despite the big push to bring women into engineering, problems remain: 86% are men. More

Singapore's National Council on Problem Gambling tried its best to discourage overzealous World Cup betting among its soccer- and gambling-crazed populace. It created a still-photo ad featuring a boy named Andy talking with an unnamed friend; both boys were sitting on soccer balls. Andy is clearly sad and concerned, because, he tells his friend, his father had just bet all of Andy's money on the World Cup outcome, picking a team most experts said had a chance, but not a great one.More