Entries in safety and health (2)

Monday
Apr102017

OSHA Delays Silica Rule

On Thursday, April 6, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") announced that it would delay implementation of the new silica safety standards by three months, until September 23, 2017.  According to OSHA's news release, "[t]he agency has determined that additional guidance is necessary due to the unique nature of the requirements in the construction standard."

During the next few weeks, OSHA is expected "to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers."

Monday
Apr112016

OSHA to Hold Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health to Discuss Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines for the Construction Industry

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will hold a special meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health to discuss a draft construction version of OSHA’s Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines.  This meeting will be held April 25-26, 2016, in Washington, DC.

This meeting is intended to result in the crafting of a separate set of safety and health program management guidelines for the construction industry.  OSHA provides guidelines and incentive programs for compliance with its safety and health regulations.  Due to the unique challenges faced by members of the construction industry, OSHA's bulletin regarding the upcoming meeting indicated the Advisory Committee intends to provide additional guidance for the construction industry on compliance with industry-specific regulations.

What is in OSHA’s Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines?

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, each employer is required to comply with the occupational safety and health standards and furnish a place of employment free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.  The Act further allows the Secretary of Labor to establish occupational safety and health standards, rules, regulations, and orders, and requires employers to comply with them.

OSHA's regulations were created to ensure that employers comply with the safety and health standards, and provide safe workplaces for their employees.  Everyone must comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, and in turn, must comply with the Safety and Health Regulations.  The means by which employers comply may differ, as the needs of one employer may not be the same as the needs of another – based on trade, employee count, or other specific characteristics of the business.

The current Safety and Health Regulations for Construction apply to members of the construction industry, and address particular issues within the construction industry.  The regulations establish that no construction contract shall require the performance of work in conditions that are “unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous” to the health or safety of the worker(s).  Additionally, they establish duties owed to employees, such as personal protective equipment and training, and accident prevention responsibilities such as regular inspections, use of properly working equipment, training on equipment and machinery, and the initiation of programs and policies that comply with these regulations.  The safety and health provisions for the construction industry also include address training and education, reporting of injuries, first aid, fire protection, housekeeping, sanitation, and personal protective equipment.

To assist employers in complying with the required OSHA Safety and Health Regulations, Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines were created. These guidelines are not mandatory, but are voluntary, and really provide guidance to employers as they implement policies and procedures to comply with OSHA Safety and Health Regulations. While it was mentioned above that everyone must comply with the Act and the Safety and Health Regulations, the means by which an employer complies may be different than another employer. Due to this potential difference in compliance, OSHA provides a set of Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines to assist employers in their compliance endeavors.

What exactly is the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health?

The Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health is an advisory body established by statute that gives advice and provides assistance in interpreting and complying with construction standards to the Assistant Secretary.  The purpose of this Advisory Committee is to advise the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health with setting construction standards and policy matters affecting construction and federally funded construction projects.  Statutes require that OSHA consult with the Advisory Committee before setting or changing construction standards under the Act. 

The upcoming meeting will be important to the construction industry as the guidelines proposed by the Advisory Committee and the OSHA standards apply to the vast majority of the construction industry, including contractors who enter into construction contracts, subcontractors who agree to perform labor or furnish materials for a construction contract; and suppliers who furnish materials for work performed on or near a construction site.  Comments are due by April 15, 2016 at www.regulations.gov for Docket No. OSHA-2016-0009 or by email or facsimile. 

If you have questions about your company’s safety and health policies or would like assistance in developing such policies for your business, please call us at (919) 828-1396.