The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) recently formed a workgroup to study and make recommendations regarding the prequalification of public works contractors based on occupational safety and health requirements. The Workgroup, which is required by HB 951 (Ch. 625, Acts of 2014), has formed subcommittees to do the following:
- analyze the potential effects of the public works contractor occupational safety and health prequalification requirements;
- study the effectiveness of public works contractor occupational safety and health prequalification requirements that exist in other jurisdictions in the United States; and,
- study the requirements and practices currently used by units in the State to evaluate public works bids and offers to ensure contractor adherence to safety standards.
Elizabeth Moss, Howard Community College’s Director of Procurement, is representing MACo on this Workgroup.
A major issue to be debated by the Workgroup is whether a statewide prequalification process for public works contractors should be established as required under the original legislation. As introduced, HB 951 would have prohibited a contractor or subcontractor from bidding on a public works project with any public body in the State unless they have been prequalified as a bidder based on a safety rating system established by DLLR. MACo opposed this legislation stating that this approach would limit the number of qualified bidders and place more onerous requirements on local governments when procuring for projects, thereby increasing costs. MACo also expressed concern that the bill would have a limiting effect on small and minority contractors. These same issues were raised by workgroup members during the second meeting held on August 6.
During the meeting an alternate proposal was offered which would require prime contractors to self evaluate and certify that they as well as their subcontractors meet certain safety requirements. As proposed, this evaluation and certification would be incorporated into bid qualifications and contractors would sign an affidavit stating they are in compliance with all safety requirements. The Workgroup will continue to debate these options and others over the next several meetings.
The next meeting of the Workgroup will take place on September 3 at DLLR.