OSHA revises hazard communication standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has revised its hazard communication standard, aligning it with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.

The hazard communication standard will be implemented fully in 2016 and benefit workers by reducing confusion about chemical hazards in the workplace, facilitating safety training and improving understanding of hazards, especially for low-literacy workers. OSHA's standard will classify chemicals according to their health and physical hazards and establish consistent labels and safety data sheets for all imported and domestically made chemicals.

The standard, once implemented, is expected to prevent an estimated 43 deaths and 585 injuries and illnesses and result in an estimated $475.2 million in enhanced productivity for U.S. businesses each year. It also is expected to reduce trade barriers and result in estimated annualized benefits with productivity improvements for U.S. businesses that regularly handle, store and use hazardous chemicals, as well as cost savings of $32.2 million for U.S. businesses that periodically update safety data sheets and labels for chemicals covered under the standard.

More information, including links to OSHA's revised hazard communication standard and guidance materials, is available at www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/index.html.

BCTD president passes away

Mark H. Ayers, president of AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD), passed away April 8.

Ayers attended National Labor College, Silver Spring, Md.; University of Wisconsin, Madison; and the University of Illinois' Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations, Urbana. He also served as an aviator in the U.S. Navy.

Ayers was elected president of BCTD Sept. 6, 2007. Before becoming BCTD president, he was director of the construction and maintenance department of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and chairman of the National Maintenance Agreements Policy Committee. He also served as co-founder and chairman of the Central Illinois Chapter of NECA-IBEW Local 24 Quality Connection and was secretary/treasurer of the West Central Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council.

A statement released by BCTD April 9 said: "Mark Ayers was a true trade unionist in every sense of the word, and it was through that commitment to bettering the lives of working families that he was able to offer so much to his country, his family and the labor movement."

DOL publishes H-2B rule

The Department of Labor (DOL) has published a new rule for the H-2B nonagricultural guest worker visa program to protect U.S. and foreign workers. The rule went into effect April 23.

The new rule includes requirements for employers to make a better effort to hire U.S. workers and inform DOL of foreign recruiters; stronger workplace protections for U.S. and H-2B workers; and a guarantee of a minimum number of hours of work. The rule also outlaws charging workers for transportation, subsistence, border crossing, visas and other fees, as well as deductions from weekly paychecks for tools and protective equipment.

Under the new rule, DOL will create a nationwide electronic registry where employers must post all jobs they seek to fill with H-2B workers. Employers must hire any qualified U.S. worker who applies up to three weeks before the start of an H-2B contract. Employers will have to consult formally with state work force agencies to demonstrate they could not find U.S. workers for the jobs.

More information about the H-2B program and the new rule is available at www.dol.gov/whd/immigration/h2bfinalrule/index.htm.

Washington, D.C., offers green roof rebate program

The District Department of the Environment is accepting applications for Washington, D.C.,'s Green Roof Rebate Program, which provides base funding of $5 per square foot to qualified recipients through the Anacostia Watershed Society, Bladensburg, Md. New construction projects will be capped at 5,000 square feet. Retrofit projects will not be capped.

Rebates are available on a first-come, first-served basis for new vegetative roof systems on existing buildings of any size and new construction projects that add a vegetative roof system to go above and beyond the requirements for a stormwater management permit.

More information about the program and registration forms are available at www.anacostiaws.org/programs/stewardship/green-roofs.

NRCA releases position statement

NRCA has published its position statement regarding the International Agency for Research on Cancer's (IARC's) asphalt fumes classification.

On Oct. 20, 2011, IARC posted on its website a one-page statement indicating it had completed a re-evaluation of occupations involving exposures to bitumen, the European term for asphalt. In the December 2011 issue of Lancet Oncology, IARC published a two-page news article providing limited additional information about its decisions.

According to these announcements, "occupational exposures to oxidized bitumens and their emissions during roofing" are classified in IARC Group 2A as "probably carcinogenic to humans."

Based on more than 20 years of research dedicated to the safe use of asphalt in roofing, NRCA believes IARC's finding is at odds with the available scientific evidence. NRCA will address the basis for the IARC finding once the monograph becomes available.

NRCA members can read the position statement and other documents, including a question-and-answer sheet and a letter from NRCA Executive Vice President Bill Good, by logging on to www.nrca.net and clicking on NRCA Member Resources and then Special Reports.


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