OSHA offers resources to help address workplace falls
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has developed a collection of compliance assistance resources to address falls in the workplace—the leading cause of construction worker fatalities, according to www.osha.gov.
The resources are intended to help promote awareness about common fall hazards in construction; educate job creators and workers regarding fall prevention; and reduce the number of fall-related injuries and fatalities. Continuing the goals of the Department of Labor's Office of Compliance Initiatives, the resources also will encourage and facilitate compliance evaluations.
Falls in the workplace can be prevented if employers plan ahead to ensure a job is done safely, provide the correct equipment and train workers to use equipment properly. OSHA is working with industry stakeholders to provide informative compliance assistance resources.
Additional information about OSHA's fall-prevention resources is available at www.osha.gov/stopfalls/index.html.
OSHA's 2019 penalties are adjusted for inflation
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's civil penalties increased Jan. 23 to adjust for inflation, according to www.osha.gov. The adjusted maximum penalty amounts took effect upon publication of the agency's final rule in the Federal Register.
New penalties for willful and repeat violations are $132,598 per violation; serious, other-than-serious and posting requirements are $13,260 per violation; and failure to abate violations are $13,260 per day beyond the abatement date. During 2018, the penalty for willful and repeat violations was $129,336 per violation; serious, other-than-serious and posting requirements were $12,934 per violation; and failure to abate violations were $12,934 per day beyond the abatement date.
The full text of the final rule is available at www.federalregister.gov.
Risk analysis is most common silica rule violation
An analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforcement records shows the most common provision violated by employers regarding silica enforcement was the mandate for determining whether workers are likely to be exposed to silica dust at levels exceeding OSHA's threshold, according to Bloomberg Law.
Inhaling silica in dangerous amounts can cause scarred lungs, breathing difficulties and even death. The silica rule—which was released in March 2016 and began enforcement in June 2018—requires businesses where silica is a byproduct of manufacturing and distribution to take air samples at work sites.
Of the 42 silica violations cited as of Jan. 4, 38 percent involved employers allegedly not meeting risk-assessment requirements. Remaining citations included not having a written exposure control plan and not teaching workers how to avoid inhaling silica.
Sixty-two percent of the violations had proposed fines of $500 or less. The highest proposed fine was $18,108 for two serious violations against a sand and gravel distributor; the fine was reduced to $5,000 in a settlement. Most of the inspections leading to citations stemmed from employee complaints.
The silica rule reduces by 50 percent the permissible exposure limit for workers, with the new level being 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. If employers exceed the "action level" of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air, they must regularly measure exposure.
OSHA issues final rule regarding tracking of injuries, illnesses
On Jan. 24, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a final rule eliminating the requirement for all establishments with 250 or more employees to electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, and OSHA Form 301, Injury and Illness Incident Report, to OSHA. These establishments and those in high-hazard industries—such as construction (including roofing)—with 20 to 249 employees now are required to annually submit only OSHA Form 300A.
Public comments to the original proposed rule generally questioned the usefulness of the information collected, considering it a burden placed on employers. In January 2014, NRCA commented it was troubled by the lack of detail in the rule regarding protection of private information involving injured workers and proprietary company information. OSHA initially discounted the significance of those concerns. Litigation was initiated by employer groups to void the rule, and legal action still is pending.
In July 2018, OSHA proposed a rule to revise the electronic reporting requirement for establishments with 250 or more employees to eliminate the submission of forms 300 and 301 but to include employers' Employer Identification Numbers. Requirements for construction industry employers with 20 to 249 employees remained the same. This action makes final the requirement for employers with 250 or more employees and construction industry employers with 20 or more workers to annually submit OSHA Form 300A with their EINs.
OSHA said it issued the EIN requirement because it would make the data more useful for OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics and could reduce duplicative reporting burdens on employers in the future. OSHA stated the final rule will allow the agency to improve enforcement targeting and compliance assistance, protect worker privacy and safety, and decrease the burden on employers. Many of the original ideas OSHA stated as reasons for the new rule included:
NRCA is concerned about the portion of the ruling that states proprietary establishment information contained on OSHA Form 300A will continue to require electronic submittal because OSHA has demonstrated no interest in protecting the information from public access.
OSHA Form 300A requires employers to submit information regarding the annual average number of employees and total hours worked by all employees during 2018. This information has no relevance to any duties of the agency established by Congress under the OSH Act for the protection of worker health and safety. However, competitors and others may use that information to gain insight into an establishment's financial workings to the detriment of the submitting establishment.
In 2018, NRCA recommended OSHA eliminate the requirement to submit that information or take necessary steps to ensure the information is not accessible to the public on any website or through any other means established by OSHA under this rule. Unfortunately, OSHA has failed to address this in its final ruling.
NRCA will continue to push to eliminate the requirement to submit OSHA Form 300A; however, the final rule took effect immediately. Collection of 2018 information from OSHA Form 300A began Jan. 2 and continues through March 2. For roofing contractors with 20 or more employees, electronic submittal of Form 300A must be done annually beginning immediately.