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Safe Handling and Lifting: An Employer’s Responsibility

Posted on 8/29/2016 2:11 PM by Tom Davison

It’s an employer’s responsibility to ensure the safety of their staff in the workplace. Without having the proper procedures for lifting and handling heavy goods in place, your staff could be at risk of injury, resulting in lost working days for your business.

The United States Department of Labour’s Materials Handling and Storage literature explains the hazards and shows how employers can prevent injury, but many issues can be averted by following some simple guidelines:

The Hazards

The most common hazards posed to US workers include:

  • Lifting heavy or bulky items
  • Falling objects
  • Improperly stacked items
  • Using equipment incorrectly or without the correct training

Depending on the severity of the incident, these hazards can lead to serious injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to strains, fractures and – in some cases even death. As an employer or building manager, it’s your duty to ensure your staff are protected from these hazards.

Reduce the Need

Of course, if your staff aren’t picking up and moving heavy loads, there’s a minimal chance of injury through manual handling. Investing in specialized lifting and handling equipment is one way of doing so, as it allows staff to move the load without physical exertion.

Depending on the equipment required, this investment can be costly. However, when you weigh up the benefits, like improved staff welfare and reduced absences, it is a no-brainer. Remember, specialized equipment can be a hazard in itself if correct training is not given, so always ensure your staff know how to use the machinery properly.

Reduce the Risk

Because not every instance of manual handling can be avoided, employers should carry out a risk assessment to determine the level of danger and potential injuries that staff members face. Once the risks have been identified, you should ensure your staff are fully capable of safely carrying out the task.

Delivering training on the correct procedures to follow when lifting or moving items will give them the knowledge they need to stay safe in the workplace. Developing a manual handling policy will help ensure all staff are equipped with the right information.

Monitor the Changes

If an employee complains of an injury or health problem, you should make changes to the way they work with regards to manual handling. After implementing these changes, you should monitor the situation to ensure they have been positive. Creating a simple survey or regularly catching up with the staff member will help you find out whether their symptoms have improved and which particular task caused it. Not only will you improve your relationship with the staff member, you will be able to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.

Tom Davison is Sales Team Leader at Slingsby. He can be reached at


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4 Key Points When Considering the (§179D) Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction

Posted on 8/26/2016 11:08 AM by Nelson Marin

In 2006, IRC Section 179D was enacted as a part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) to incentivize building owners to implement energy efficient systems into their buildings. In general, the incentive was highly underused for the first several years. This was partly due to the economic collapse of 2008, but also from a lack of awareness and the nonexistence of the IRS required 3rd party verifiers. In recent years the incentive has gained much traction in the marketplace and in some cases it has become a critical tool to companies’ business models. For professionals who could benefit from this tax incentive, let’s take a deeper look.

Section 179D of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) is an engineered based tax incentive available for the reduction of energy and power costs in commercial and large residential buildings. Currently the tax law allows for a tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot. The provision specifically looks for the reduction of energy though the interior lighting, heating, cooling, and building envelope systems. Buildings which do not qualify for the full $1.80 per square foot deduction can partially qualify for $0.60 for HVAC, $0.60 for building envelope, and $0.60 for Lighting systems.

1. What are the requirements needed to qualify?

To qualify for the full $1.80 per square foot, Section 179D requires the building to meet or exceed a 50% savings in energy and power costs when compared to a theoretical ASHRAE 90.1-2001 baseline building. If the 50% savings is not met, the tax provision also allows for partially qualifying systems.

• $0.60/SF for HVAC systems meeting 15% savings

• $0.60/SF for Lighting systems meeting 25% savings

• $0.60/SF for Building Envelope systems meeting 10% savings

In addition to the energy and power cost savings method, the tax provision allows an additional qualification method under the Interim Lighting Rule. This method allows for lighting systems to qualify for 30¢-60¢ per square foot for a 25%-40% savings in Lighting Power Density (LPD) when compared to ASHRAE 90.1-2001 LPD standards.

The IRS requires for the taxpayers to obtain and maintain a certification from a 3rd party verifier. The IRS and NREL have provided guidance for the Energy modeling standards as well as declarations required within the certification. The energy modeling which is used to determine the energy and power costs savings, must be performed with a Dept. of Energy approved software. Additionally, the IRS requires field inspections to be performed after the energy efficient property has been placed into service.

2. Who can benefit?

The 179D tax provision can apply to a commercial building of any type or size. In addition to commercial buildings, residential buildings which are 4 stories or more may also qualify. Government owned housing units are also limited to 4 stories or more. This requirement of 4 stories or more is due to the modeling standards of ASHRAE 90.1.

3. Applying 179D to Government Owned Buildings

Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress realized that because governments are non-taxable entities they would be unable to utilize the section 179D tax incentive and allowed the Governments to allocate the deduction to the Companies which were primarily responsible for the design of the energy efficient systems. It wasn’t until April of 2008 that the IRS established some guidance on the process and documentation required to establish the entitlement to the allocated deduction. A representative of the Government Building Owner must sign an “allocation letter” verifying of the cost, placed in service date, and amount of the deduction being allocated to the designers.

4. Applicable Time Frame

The 179D tax provision is currently set to expire on December 31st, 2016 which allows Commercial Building Owners to utilize the tax incentive for current year projects as well as previous projects as far back as January, 1st 2006.  Form 3115, Change in Accounting Method, may be used to retroactively take the deduction in current year tax filings and avoid amending previous year returns.

For designers of government owned buildings who are looking to receive an allocated deduction, the deduction may be taken in the current year and previous “open tax years” (generally 3 years from date of filing). For property placed in service during previous years, the designer is required to amend their tax returns.

Nelson Marin is the Director of Engineering for Walker Reid Strategies. For more information, please visit  

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