Facing adversity

Contractors cope with an increasingly overbearing OSHA

In early December 2009, David Michaels was named the new assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In one of his first speeches on Jan. 20, 2010, to OSHA's Maritime Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, Michaels said: "This administration is returning the agency to the original intent of the OSH [Occupational Safety and Health] Act. This is a regulatory and enforcement agency, and we're going to act like it."

Based on what the roofing industry has witnessed since Michaels and his administration took over, it has become clear a regulatory and enforcement agency acts like a shark that has caught the scent of blood.

In recent months, OSHA has issued a number of new regulations drastically affecting the roofing industry, including a fall-protection instruction rescinding the use of slide guards and a new crane standard. Additionally, Michaels has placed emphasis on increasing job-site inspections and penalties, and OSHA budget increases have focused on hiring more inspectors.

NRCA has received an abundance of complaints from roofing contractors who have had bad experiences with OSHA, particularly during the past year; many mentioned frantically trying to comply with a plethora of new regulations, negative interactions with inspectors or even borderline harassment by the agency in some extreme cases.