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    Winter Weather - Copyright: iStock.com | LawrenceSawyer
    In addition to cold stress, there are other winter weather related hazards that workers may be exposed to when performing tasks such as driving in the snow, removing snow from rooftops, and working near downed or damaged power lines.

    Winter Driving
    Work Zone Traffic Safety
    Stranded in a Vehicle
    Shoveling Snow
    Using Powered Equipment like Snow Blowers
    Clearing Snow from Roofs and Working at Heights
    Preventing Slips on Snow and Ice
    Repairing Downed or Damaged Power Lines
    Working Near Downed or Damaged Power Lines
    Removing Downed Trees
    Winter Driving
    Although employers cannot control roadway conditions, they can promote safe driving behavior by ensuring workers: recognize the hazards of winter weather driving, for example, driving on snow/ice covered roads; are properly trained for driving in winter weather conditions; and are licensed (as applicable) for the vehicles they operate. For information about driving safely during the winter, visit OSHA's Safe Winter Driving page.

    Employers should set and enforce driver safety policies. Employers should also implement an effective maintenance program for all vehicles and mechanized equipment that workers are required to operate. Crashes can be avoided. Learn more at: Motor Vehicle Safety (OSHA Safety and Health Topic’s Page).

    Employers should ensure properly trained workers' inspect the following vehicle systems to determine if they are working properly:

    Brakes: Brakes should provide even and balanced braking. Also check that brake fluid is at the proper level.
    Cooling System: Ensure a proper mixture of 50/50 antifreeze and water in the cooling system at the proper level.
    Electrical System: Check the ignition system and make sure that the battery is fully charged and that the connections are clean. Check that the alternator belt is in good condition with proper tension.
    Engine: Inspect all engine systems.
    Custom home building posted a small gain year-over-year, according to the NAHB’s analysis of Census Data from the Quarterly Starts and Completions by Purpose and Design survey.

    NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz writes:

    There were 54,000 total custom starts for the third quarter of 2018. This was a slight improvement over the third quarter of 2017 (51,000). Over the last four quarters, ending with the third quarter of 2018, custom housing starts totaled 175,000. This was a 1.2% gain over the prior four quarters. Note that this definition of custom home building does not include homes intended for sale, so the analysis uses a narrow definition of the sector.

    As measured on a one-year moving average, the market share of custom home building in terms of total single-family starts is now 20%, down from a cycle high of 31.5% set during the second quarter of 2009.

    The onset of the housing crisis and the Great Recession interrupted a 15-year long trend away from homes built on the eventual owner’s land. As housing production slowed in 2006 and 2007, the market share of this not-for-sale new housing increased as the number of single-family starts declined. The share increased because the credit crunch made it more difficult for builders to obtain AD&C credit, thus producing relatively greater production declines of for-sale single-family housing.

    Recent declines in market share are due to an acceleration in overall single-family construction, especially in spec home building. As this part of the market cools due to declining affordability, the market share for custom homes will likely stabilize.
    The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Remodeling Market Index (RMI) posted a reading of 58 in the third quarter of 2018, remaining stable from the previous quarter. The RMI has been consistently above 50—indicating that more remodelers report market activity is higher compared to the prior quarter than report it is lower—since the second quarter of 2013. The overall RMI averages current remodeling activity and future indicators.

    “Remodelers across the country are seeing home owner demand remain strong through the midpoint of the year,” said NAHB Remodelers Chair Joanne Theunissen, CGP, CGR, a remodeler from Mt. Pleasant, Mich. “Both positive home price growth—albeit at a slightly slower rate—and good consumer confidence are supporting the steady remodeling market.”

    Current market conditions rose one point from the previous quarter to 58. Among its three major components, major additions and alterations rose one point to 56, minor additions and alterations decreased one point to 57 and the home maintenance and repair component rose one point to 60.

    The future market indicators remained the same as the previous quarter at 59. Calls for bids rose two points to 57, amount of work committed for the next three months increased three points to 59, the backlog of remodeling jobs fell four points to 62 and appointments for proposals decreased two points to 59.

    “The stability of the RMI reflects offsetting trends in the remodeling market,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “A sound economy with low unemployment and easing lumber prices are being counterbalanced by rising interest rates and the ongoing labor shortage.”

    For the full RMI tables, please visit www.nahb.org/rmi. For more information about remodeling, visit www.nahb.org/remodel.
    Sales of newly built, single-family homes fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 553,000 units after downwardly revised August, July and June reports, according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the lowest sales pace since December 2016. However, on a year-to-date basis, sales are up 3.5 percent from this time in 2017.

    “New home sales activity has slowed this summer as housing affordability remains a serious issue,” said Randy Noel, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a custom home builder from LaPlace, La. “However, sales are up from this time last year and builders continue to report consumer interest in housing.”

    “Home price gains and rising interest rates are slowing down the housing market, particularly in high-cost areas and among entry-level buyers who are sensitive to price increases,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Builders need to provide homes at different price points to address these affordability concerns. Meanwhile, overall job and economic growth should help support the housing market in the months ahead as it adjusts to higher mortgage interest rates.”

    A new home sale occurs when a sales contract is signed or a deposit is accepted. The home can be in any stage of construction: not yet started, under construction or completed. In addition to adjusting for seasonal effects, the September reading of 553,000 units is the number of homes that would sell if this pace continued for the next 12 months.

    The inventory of new homes for sale was 327,000 in September. The median sales price was $320,000. Meanwhile, the median home price in September 2017 was $331,500, as the market has shifted to lower-cost homes.

    Regionally, new home sales rose 6.9 percent in the Midwest. Sales fell 1.5 percent in the South, 12 percent in the West and 40.6 percent in the Northeast. On a year-
    Contracts for new single-family home sales declined in September, as eroding affordability conditions reduced sales volume. New single-family home sales declined to a significantly lower 553,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate, a 5.5% drop from a downwardly revised 585,000 annual rate recorded in August. The sales data are produced by HUD and the Census Bureau.

    The weak September estimate was the lowest annual rate since December 2016. It marks a notable retreat from the recent, modest growth trend that had been in place due to solid economic conditions and unmet demographic demand but constrained by rising construction costs due to labor access issues, building material pricing and rising regulatory costs. The drop in monthly sales volume also pushed the months’ supply number to an elevated 7.1, the highest since the summer of 2011.

    Despite the softer summer and early fall numbers, total sales for the first nine months of 2019 (485,000) are 3.5% higher than the comparable total for 2017 (469,000). Nonetheless, mirroring declining sales volume for the resale market, higher interest rates, storm disruption effects, and spring and summer hikes in lumber prices have taken a toll on the nation’s building markets, even as macroeconomic conditions remain positive.

    Inventory increased in September to 327,000 single-family homes for sale. September saw a notable uptick in homes not-started construction but otherwise listed for sale, rising from 57,000 in August to 64,000 in September (compared to 47,000 in September of 2017). Additionally, sales of homes not started construction were lower on a year-over-year basis (168,000 annual rate in September compared to 185,000 in September of 2017), suggesting the current soft patch is demand-side focused rather than supply-side constrained.

    Median new home sales pricing has decreased over the last year as the mix of supply has adjusted. Median new home price was $320,000 in September, compared to $331,500 a
    OSB first burst onto the scene about 40 years ago as an affordable alternative to plywood. Versatile functionality, affordability, and resource efficiency helped OSB quickly become the leading residential structural panel product in the U.S.

    And while OSB’s status as a go-to material hasn’t changed, many other things have. Thanks to continuous R&D, OSB sub-floor, wall and roof panels are available with an array of advanced performance capabilities, including options designed to stand up to Mother Nature’s worst.

    Here’s how OSB has evolved—and what it means for you.

    1. Beyond Waferboard
    When stranded products were invented, they were called waferboard. OSB is in the same family and looks similar, but we’ve come a long way from wood chips and glues. OSB uses strands that are long and slender which allows them to be oriented in cross-directional layers within the panel. This creates both higher strength and stiffness while making a more dimensionally stable product.

    2. Advanced Resins
    Resins and waxes continue to improve, helping to increase the panels’ dimensional stability, durability, and moisture resistance. The industry is also increasing its use of MDI resins, which are polyurethane resins that improve premium panels’ moisture resistance even further.

    3. Increased Versatility
    Despite some misconceptions in the marketplace, OSB panels are not all the same. Using the processes and technologies described above, OSB has evolved to include good-better-best options that allow you to select products that best suit your project needs and budget. For the sub-floor, for example, high-performance panels allow contractors to leave floor systems exposed longer. For higher-end flooring such as hardwood, these premium panels offer better fastener retention to ensure the finished floor looks good for longer. On the walls, builders can choose from a range of options to meet specific project needs and upgrade ho
    Mortgage applications fell by 7.1% on a seasonally-adjusted basis from one week earlier for the week ending October 12th, 2018, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA)’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey. This week’s results do not include an adjustment for the Columbus Day holiday.

    On an unadjusted basis, the Market Composite Index fell 7% from the previous week. The Refinance index fell by 9% over the same period, and both the seasonally adjusted and unadjusted Purchase Index fell by 6%.

    The refinance share of mortgage activity fell to 38.1% of total applications, down from 39.0% the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity fell to 7.1% of applications. The FHA share fell to 10.4% from 10.5%, the VA share rose to 10.4% from 10.0%, and the USDA share of total applications remained unchanged at 0.8%.

    "Mortgage applications were likely impacted by both the Columbus Day holiday and the increase in rates, as we saw declines in both purchase and refinance activity. However, it's important to note that purchase activity remained 2.5 percent higher than a year ago, which is in line with our forecast for gradual gains in purchase activity this year," says Joel Kan, MBA Associate Vice President of Industry Surveys and Forecasts. ‘"Treasury rates increased over the week, mainly as communication from Federal Reserve officials pointed to a continued path of rate hikes, based on the strength of the economy and hot job market. This pushed the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage past the 5 percent mark, increasing 5 basis points to 5.10 percent. Furthermore, four out of the five rates tracked in our survey increased."

    The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($453,100 or less) rose to its highest level since February 2011 at 5.10%, up from 5.05% the previous week. Points for 80% loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans rose to 0.55 from 0.51. (Al
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