WSRCA Legal Counsel
, Cotney Construction Law
Greetings WSRCA Members,
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is instituting a handful of new rules that took effect on July 15, 2019. The overarching goal of these updates is to streamline processes, decrease paperwork, and preserve funds. The final rule will lead to fourteen standards revisions related to record keeping, construction, and more. OSHA believes that companies in the United States will save up to $6.1 million annually as a result. In this article, we will discuss these upcoming changes and explain how they will reduce the burden on employers.
COMPLIANCE MADE EASY
It might feel like OSHA is constantly lurking in the shadows, waiting to lash out against employers who fail to maintain absolute compliance, but their real motivations are much less sinister. OSHA wants all contractors to facilitate a safe project site. The citations and penalties incurred along the way are meant to improve safety. While OSHA is concerned with maintaining workplace safety nationwide, they’re also looking for ways to streamline compliance and lessen the burden on contractors.
This notion is best illustrated by OSHA’s recent move to scrap some proposed changes to its current lockout/tagout standards. Since the proposed changes had a high chance of increasing the burden on employers, the agency decided to hold off. Instead of reinventing the wheel and throwing employers into a frenzy, OSHA has decided to implement a series of distinct rules regarding lockout/tagout. OSHA is even encouraging employers to speak out to let them know if proposed rules are going to do more harm than good. OSHA must take a balanced approach. When new rules are too stringent, it throws off our industries and creates other problems. When new rules are too lax, it leads to more injuries and potential fatalities.
Not all of OSHA's rule changes apply to the construction industry. For example, redacting feral cats from the definition of vermin isn’t going to have any serious repercussions for contractors. However, contractors should be aware of the following:
- Employers must now post latitude and longitude data (or other location-identification information) on project sites with poor cell service.
- The minimum breaking strength for lifelines has been reduced from 5,400 pounds to 5,000 pounds.
- To preserve privacy, employers are no longer required to include their workers’ Social Security numbers on certain forms.
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