Not many days ago, ENR reported that construction's unemployment rate dipped to 24.9%, as construction added jobs for the first time since June 2007.

Perhaps this welcome trend will continue.

However, during the downturn, much of the legal landscape has shifted. One of the prime maxims of our Common Law is “Those Who Can, Must,” or that with the ability to do something, or have control over some situation, we are linked to the responsibility to do so.

This becomes especially true as the levels of regulatory oversight increase.

So the question is what new means, methods, techniques, procedures or regulations have improved the ability to control our projects and the workers who build them.

An example is the improved prevalence of GPS systems, such that freight carriers can now track the location of individual trucks and their speeds. This has quickly morphed to a requirement that such carriers must do so and thereby become even more responsible for driver behavior. And the ability of the driver to divert from the specified route to dine at a favorite restaurant rather than at the interstate rest stop has been (and must be) curtailed.

The emergence of BIM and RFID tags over the past three years may usher in another wave of mandated controls.

Can an RFID tag be attached to the badge of every employee on the project worksite?

If so, then a court or regulatory body will soon declare that this also is mandated.

I suspect this will first emerge in settings such as renovations at working facilities, hospitals, schools, and even office buildings, to prevent employees from wandering out of the construction area and into restricted areas. A similar mandate will be to use such systems on jobsites where blasting or other dangerous activities may occur to assure an “all clear” condition.

Will future specifications (or simply court, regulatory rules or insurance carriers) require an additional Safety Officer to program the site computer with permitted access zones for each class of employee, and then provide daily or constant oversight to prevent potential harm? This new potential expense (or risk) should be part of every bid as we climb out of this recession. 

And would new rules like this slow our recovery?

Probably. But the world has not sat still while we enjoyed our involuntary vacation.

Let me know what other new means, methods or innovations have developed over that past three years that you believe will give us additional control, but also new obligations to act.