Lehigh Valley

Contractor certifications now required in Northampton County

Risk minimization part of goal

EASTON, Pa. - Northampton County Council Thursday night approved an ordinance that requires certain certifications for contractors doing more than $250,000 worth of work for the county.

Approved By a 7-1 vote, with council member Matthew Dietz dissenting and council member Margaret Ferraro absent, the ordinance requires contractors to identify their subcontractors and certify completion of educational training such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s 10-hour program.

OSHA 10, as it is referred to in the industry, is a requirement for construction workers. It is intended to help raise awareness of how to recognize and prevent safety hazards on the work site.

Before the vote, Dietz objected to a provision in the ordinance that requires firms to participate in the Class A Apprenticeship Program for the past three years, at a minimum, for each separate trade performed by the employee.

Describing the apprentice program as “a union thing,” Dietz said the requirement leaves out many qualified local contractors and is a disservice to taxpayers.

Council President Kenneth Kraft said he would sleep better knowing that workers have completed the program.

Council member William McGee, who introduced the ordinance with council member Ronald Heckman, said the provision is meant to minimize risk and provide for well-trained employees and is an important part of the overall ordinance to raise the threshold of the county’s expectations for the contractors it hires.

Council member Tara Zrinski suggested adding “equivalent” apprenticeship training as a compromise, but the amendment failed on a 4-4 vote.

After the meeting, McGee said the ordinance is meant as checklist for responsible contractors to sign and certify completion of educational programs and to limit the county’s risk.

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