• McHugh and his wife, Linda, sailing in Nantucket Sound off South Chatham, Mass.

OSHA withdraws noise standard interpretation

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it is withdrawing its proposed "Interpretation of OSHA's Provisions for Feasible Administrative or Engineering Controls of Occupational Noise." The proposed interpretation, which was published in the Federal Register Oct. 19, 2010, would have clarified the term "feasible administrative or engineering controls" as used in OSHA's noise standard.

In 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than 22,000 hearing-loss cases resulting from high workplace noise levels. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, says OSHA remains committed to finding ways to reduce the toll.

As part of the effort, OSHA will:

  • Conduct a thorough review of comments that have been submitted in response to the Federal Register notice and of any other information it receives regarding the issue
  • Hold a stakeholder meeting on preventing occupational hearing loss to elicit the views of employers, workers, and noise control and public health professionals
  • Consult experts from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Academy of Engineering
  • Initiate a robust outreach and compliance assistance effort to provide enhanced technical information and guidance on the many inexpensive, effective engineering controls for dangerous noise levels

NRCA members attend State of the Union Address

Robert Allen, president of Allen Brothers Inc., Rochester Hills, Mich., and his brother Gary Allen, vice president of Allen Brothers, attended President Obama's State of the Union Address, which was broadcast Jan. 25.

The Allens, who were guests in First Lady Michelle Obama's box, were able to retool half their manufacturing facility to manufacture solar shingles and launch a new business, Luma Resources, with the help of $500,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

"Robert and Gary Allen are brothers who run a small Michigan roofing company," Obama said during the address. "After Sept. 11, they volunteered their best roofers to help repair the Pentagon. But half of their factory went unused, and the recession hit them hard. Today, with the help of a government loan, that empty space is being used to manufacture solar shingles that are being sold all across the country. In Robert's words: 'We reinvented ourselves.'

"That's what Americans have done for over 200 years: reinvented ourselves," Obama continued. "And to spur on more success stories like the Allen Brothers, we've begun to reinvent our energy policy."

The Allen brothers have been partners in the roofing products manufacturing company for 25 years.

OSHA and SBA seek input on MSD proposal

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Small Business Administration's (SBA's) Office of Advocacy are partnering to reach out to small businesses regarding OSHA's proposal to restore a column for work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) on employer injury and illness logs. On Jan. 25, OSHA announced its temporary withdrawal of the proposal from review by the Office of Management and Budget to seek greater input from small businesses regarding the proposal's effects.

The proposed rule would not change existing requirements about when and under what circumstances employers must record MSDs on their injury and illness logs. However, it would require those employers already mandated to keep injury and illness records and record MSDs to place a check mark in the new column for all MSDs.

On March 30, 2010, NRCA and other trade associations submitted extensive comments to OSHA raising serious concerns about the effects of the proposed rule on employers. Chief among these concerns is that OSHA's proposed rule contains no workable definition for MSDs and would cause significant uncertainty for employers who would be required to identify and record them.

Additionally, NRCA's comments noted OSHA greatly underestimated the proposal's costs to employers, particularly small businesses.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, MSDs accounted for 28 percent of all reported workplace injuries and illnesses requiring time away from work in 2009.

Before 2001, OSHA's injury and illness logs contained a column for repetitive-trauma disorders that included noise and many kinds of MSDs. In 2001, OSHA separated noise and MSDs into two columns, but the MSD column was deleted in 2003 before the provision became effective. This proposal would restore the MSD column to the Form 300.

No link exists between Chinese drywall and 11 deaths

A review provided to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) National Center for Environmental Health finds there is no evidence linking exposure to Chinese drywall to 11 reported deaths. The CDC review confirms the results of previous reviews into these deaths conducted by CPSC, which also found no link to Chinese drywall.

In 2009, there were media reports that problems with gypsum wallboard imported from China were a concern for construction industry professionals and owners of newly constructed or remodeled homes. The product is manufactured using fly ash, a residue created by coal combustion, that generally is captured from coal-fired power plants' chimneys. The product sometimes is specified as a thermal barrier layer over metal roof decks. Also, gypsum wallboard sometimes is used as backup for exterior insulation and finish system claddings.

CDC's review, which was requested by CPSC, summarizes investigations by state public health authorities of the available medical records of 11 people who died and had previously lived in or visited homes reported to contain Chinese drywall. State public health authorities concluded drywall was not a factor in the deaths. The CDC review was limited to the 11 deceased individuals.

CPSC is in the final stages of completing its scientific investigation. As part of the process, CPSC has requested CDC consider undertaking a study of any possible long-term health effects resulting from the Chinese drywall.

For additional findings from the investigation, visit www.drywallresponse.gov.


Bill McHugh

What is your position within your company?
Executive director of the Chicago Roofing Contractors Association and Chicagoland Roofing Council, Hillside, Ill.

What is the most unusual roofing project you've performed?
During the early 1980s, I worked on two interesting factories. One had a large, smooth-surfaced dome joined with a low-slope portion. The self-adhering roof membrane required seams and the field of the roof to be rolled for adhesion. Rollers wouldn't work on a varied 6:12 to 8:12 (27-degree to 34-degree) slope, so the crew anchored polyethylene strips, applied the membrane and slid over the field and seams, adhering the system after fastening the seams.

Why did you become a part of the roofing industry?
After finishing an MBA in 1981 during a time when the economy was down, I was glad to start my career working, period! My first job right out of school was working for a roofing, waterproofing and fireproofing manufacturer. I found the roofing and waterproofing industries were interesting and different than anything I thought I'd ever be involved in, so I stuck with it.

What was your first roofing experience?
The third week at my job in 1981, my boss sent me to work on an asphalt and gravel tear-off to replace a roof with minimal insulation, two plies of hot asphalt in fiberglass felt and a single-ply SBS polymer-modified bitumen self-adhering roof system.

What is the most high-tech thing in your house?
Our 1965 Lincoln Continental convertible. Almost all the technology in that car rivals that of a newer Porsche Boxster or BMW, but Lincoln/Ford did it way before computer chips were used in cars.

List three words that best describe you.
Focused, effort and team

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Hong Kong

What three condiments are always in your fridge?
Mustard, mayo and barbeque sauce

What is your biggest pet peeve?
Seeing people who won't do more than the minimum get by in any situation

What quality do you most like in a person?
Reliable initiative

If you could invite any three people (dead or alive) to dinner, whom would you invite and why?
My father died when I was 28 years old. I would relish sharing experiences of life, raising kids, etc., and how I have used the advice he gave me as I grew up. Second would be my great-grandfather, a founding member of the National Shoe Retail Association—it would be great to listen and maybe learn the basics of success really don't change regardless of the generation. Third would be Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman; he still inspires policymakers that people need to be free to choose without a government deciding what's best.

People would be surprised to know …
I am an NCAA Division III All American and Masters National Champion Springboard Diver.

DOL modifies wage program

On Jan. 19, the Department of Labor's (DOL's) Employment and Training Administration issued a final rule that substantially modifies the H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker program used by many roofing contractors.

The H-2B program allows the entry of foreign workers into the U.S. when qualified U.S. workers are not available and when employing foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. The program is limited by law to a cap of 66,000 visas per year.

The regulation originally was issued as a proposal during fall of 2010. The rule changes the calculations used to set wages for workers in the H-2B program and will increase costs for many employers who use it. According to DOL's analysis, the final rule's total annual cost to businesses will be about $847.4 million and the hourly wage for construction workers participating in the program will increase to $9.72.

The new wage rates for H-2B workers required by the final rule will take effect on or after Jan. 1, 2012. The final rule was published in the Jan. 19 edition of the Federal Register and addresses the calculations used to set wage rates for H-2B workers.

Under the final rule, employers are required to pay H-2B workers and U.S. workers recruited in connection with an H-2B job application a wage that meets or exceeds the highest of the following: the prevailing wage, federal minimum wage, state minimum wage or local minimum wage. The prevailing wage is based on the highest of the following:

  • Wages established under an agreed-upon collective bargaining agreement
  • A wage rate established under the Davis-Bacon Act or the Service Contract Act for an occupation in an area of intended employment if the job opportunity is an occupation for which such a wage rate has been determined
  • The arithmetic mean wage rate established by DOL's Occupational Employment Statistics wage survey for an occupation in an area of intended employment


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