As reported in NAHB’s latest Washington Update, home builders and remodelers have been given a 90-day reprieve from federal OSHA enforcement of new, more stringent fall protection regulations, which have been in effect since September 15, 2011. The previously announced temporary enforcement measures, which provide priority free on-site compliance assistance, penalty reductions, extended abatement dates, measures to ensure consistency and increased outreach, have been extended until March 15, 2013, to allow the industry more time to learn about the rule. NAHB has long held that OSHA’s fall protection standard — including requirements that all residential construction companies must ensure that any employees or subcontractors doing work that’s six feet above ground or floor level must be protected with guardrail, safety net or personal fall arrest systems — could actually cause greater danger on the job site than using alternate methods that home builders say are safer. NAHB again made that argument and recently sent a letter and petition to OSHA officials asking them to reopen the rulemaking and try again to create a rule that applies to home builders, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach that is better suited to commercial contracting. “We are very pleased that OSHA heeded our calls” in delaying enforcement of the new guidelines, noted NAHB Chairman Barry Rutenberg when OSHA made its announcement on Dec. 11. Get the full story in the Washington Update. Contact: Rob Matuga (800-368-5242 x8507).
Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administrationcompiles an annual list of the top 10 most frequently cited standards across all industries. The majority of standards that OSHA has now identified as the most frequently cited are directly applicable to the construction and residential home building industries. Employers who were cited for violations in 2011 may have noticed that the penalties were higher than in the past. The average serious violation penalty for 2011 was $2,132 — more than double the average of $1,053 for 2010. OSHA last year also issued 215 citations totaling at least $100,000 — up from 164 citations issued in 2010.
OSHA’s top 10 most frequently cited standards across all industries in FY 2011 were:
- Scaffolding, general requirements (29 CFR 1926.451)
- Fall protection (29 CFR 1926.501)
- Hazard communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200)
- Respiratory protection (29 CFR 1910.134)
- Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout) (29 CFR 1910.147)
- Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment (29 CFR 1910.305)
- Powered industrial trucks (29 CFR 1910.178)
- Ladders (29 CFR 1926.1053)
- Electrical systems design, general requirements (29 CFR 1910.303)
- Machines, general requirements (29 CFR 1910.212)
In a Sept. 16, 2010 webinar on preparing for OSHA inspections, Brad Hammock of Jackson Lewis LLP reminded builders that there are a few things they can do to reduce or eliminate the chances of being cited by OSHA. For example, before a compliance safety and health officer ever sets foot on the job site, they should:
- Review their safety program
- Understand any national and local emphasis programs
- Develop procedures for an OSHA visit and train their employees in those procedures
- Have records (300 Logs, training records, etc.) readily available and up-to-date
- Make sure their workers are properly trained on the safety requirements of the job site
NAHB has previously reported to you about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) decision to implement a three-month phase-in period for new fall protection guidelines that became effective on June 15 (read more here). As builders focus on understanding the new rules in this area, they are also reminded that OSHA has indicated that it is stepping up enforcement measures on a number of fronts and that it has taken steps to increase the dollar amount of all penaltiesthrough administrative enhancements to its penalty policy.
Builders and trade contractors should pay particular attention to the following hazards, which are the top 10 most frequently-cited OSHA standards for construction in 2010 (with the reference to the specific OSHA standard in parentheses):
Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451)
Fall Protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501)
Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053)
Fall Protection, training requirements (29 CFR 1926.503)
Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200)
General Safety & Health Provisions (29 CFR 1926.20)
Head Protection (29 CFR 1926.100)
Aerial Lifts (29 CFR 1926.453)
Eye & Face Protection (29 CFR 1926.102)
Excavation, specific excavation requirements (29 CFR 1926.651)
There are a few simple things that builders and trade contractors should do to be prepared for OSHA inspections. These include:
- Conducting an assessment to identify and correct safety hazards on the job site.
- Conducting appropriate safety training for employees — such as fall protection and ladder safety training.
- Updating records and making sure they are readily available.
- Understanding the OSHA inspection process.
You should know that NAHB has multiple resources that are designed to assist you in achieving compliance with OSHA rules and regulations. For example, we have versatile handbooks and videos that present key safety issues where builders and workers can reduce accidents and injuries. These are available via BuilderBooks at this link. Also, NAHB’s Construction Safety & OSHA web page contains compliance assistance information at www.nahb.org/safety. You can also download a free overview of the OSHA inspection process and obtain OSHA assistance at this link. For more information, contact Rob Matuga or Marcus Odorizzi at 800-368-5242, x8507 or x8590.
Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has asked the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) to look into the myriad problems associated with the EPA’s Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP). Specifically, Inhofe sent a letter to committee chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) asking the committee to conduct an oversight hearing on how the EPA is administering and enforcing the rule. “There is significant bipartisan support on the EPW committee and in the Senate to address problems associated with the rule’s implementation,” he said. Inhofe also noted that, ”Given the damage from spring flooding and tornadoes throughout the South and Midwest, it is vital to understand how these EPA rules will affect families and communities trying to rebuild.” Finalized last year, the lead paint rule requires remodelers and other contractors working in homes built before 1978 to take precautions to contain lead dust. The so-called opt-out provision — in which home owners who didn’t have children under six or a pregnant woman in the home were able to waive the requirements — was abolished last year.
Clearance Testing Rule Deadline July 15
Inhofe has also weighed in on a proposal to add clearance testing to remodeling requirements. Currently, remodelers must use a dust cloth on each project and match the color of the cloth to an EPA-provided card to determine whether a significant amount of dust remains. The EPA has proposed replacing this procedure with clearance testing for a subset of renovation activities, which Inhofe has called a “dramatic change” to the lead rule that would “amplify the unintended consequences we have heard from our constituents: that the higher costs from current LRRP renovators have pushed home owners to either hire uncertified individuals or to perform renovation work themselves.” In addition, Inhofe said in a letter to EPA officials, the testing would add even more costs to the renovation work — an expense that the EPA has not accurately portrayed in its analysis of the impact of the new requirement. In its response, the EPA said that its usual practice is to recalculate the economic impact of a proposal before issuing a final ruling. For more on this story, read this article in Nation’s Building News or contact Matt Watkins at 800-368-5242, x8327.
In a June 8 letter to NAHB, Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, announced a three month phase-in period to allow residential construction companies additional time to come into compliance with the Agency’s new directive Compliance Guidance for Residential Construction(STD 03-11-002). This decision is in response to a meeting between NAHB and OSHA’s leadership on May 26, during which NAHB First Vice Chairman Barry Rutenberg and Dean Mon, Chairman of NAHB’s Construction Safety and Health Committee, argued that builders need additional time to fully understand the steps that must be taken and to properly plan for the fall protection change. NAHB also stressed there is a continued need for more fall protection training and compliance assistance for residential construction employers.
OSHA’s field staff have now been instructed that for the first three months in which the new directive is in effect, the agency will not issue fall protection citations to home builders who are using the protective measures in the old residential construction fall protection directive (STD 03-00-001). Instead, where necessary, OSHA will issue a hazard alert letter informing the builder of the feasible methods that can be used to comply with OSHA’s fall protection standard or the need for a written fall protection plan to be implemented. If the builder’s practices do not meet the minimum requirements set in the old directive — or if a company fails to implement the fall protection measures outlined in a hazard alert letter and during a subsequent inspection OSHA should find violations involving the same hazards — the agency will at that time issue a citation.
The three month phase-in period runs from June 16 to September 15, 2011. Read OSHA’s official announcement on the agency’s website, and view the letter sent to NAHB by Dr. Michaels here. Contact: Rob Matuga (800-368-5242, x8507)