Rules + Regs

DOL final rule clarifies employee representation rights

The Department of Labor has published a final rule clarifying the rights of employees to authorize a representative to accompany an Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance officer during an inspection of their workplaces.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act gives employers and employees the right to authorize a representative to accompany OSHA officials during a workplace inspection. Consistent with the law, the final rule clarifies workers may authorize another employee to serve as their representative or select a nonemployee.

The rule also clarifies a nonemployee representative may be necessary based on his or her skills, knowledge and/or experience, including knowledge or experience with hazards or conditions in the workplace or similar workplaces; or language or communication skills needed for an effective inspection.

The rule was published in the Federal Register in April and went into effect May 31.

New York City may mandate solar panels on public buildings

In February, New York City council members introduced a bill that would mandate solar panel installations on public buildings to reduce the city’s carbon footprint and long-term energy costs, according to Construction Dive.

The legislation would require the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to install 100 megawatts of solar photovoltaic systems on the roofs of city-owned buildings by the end of 2025. It calls for a total installation of 150 megawatts by 2030 on city-owned buildings and other properties, such as parking lots and industrial areas. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services is required to work with the Mayor’s Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability to complete the solar installations and must create a plan by the end of 2026 to meet the 2030 goal.

In January, New York City Mayor Eric Adams released a green economy action plan that outlines more than 63 actions, including those to boost buildings’ energy efficiency, procure innovative technology for retrofits and facilitate commercial retrofits.

The legislation prohibits the use of power purchase agreements to meet the solar PV system targets because it aims to create more job opportunities for unionized workers. City officials have indicated they prefer to use power purchase agreements, which reportedly can help transition to renewable energy more quickly by allowing a separate entity to install, operate and maintain solar infrastructure.

Phoenix passes heat safety ordinance

In March, Phoenix city council members passed a heat safety ordinance to better protect outdoor workers by requiring employers with outdoor workers to have a heat safety plan on record, according to Construction Dive.

More than 600 Maricopa County citizens died from extreme heat in 2023, nearly 400 of those in Phoenix.

The heat safety plans mandated by the ordinance apply to all contracts, leases and licenses with the city, including subcontractors. The plans must include:

  • Availability of free cool drinking water
  • Ability to take regular and necessary breaks, including water breaks
  • Access to shade and/or air conditioning
  • Access to air conditioning in vehicles with enclosed cabs
  • Acclimatization practices
  • Training about heat illness and injury

Union representatives and worker advocates testified at the meeting and urged the council to pass the ordinance.

“It also makes good business sense for us to have and implement a heat response plan,” says David Hondula, director of Phoenix’s Office of Heat Response and Mitigation. “Research shows workers who are not dealing with, recovering from or worried about heat-related illness are more productive on the job.”

However, the Arizona chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America opposed the ordinance in a letter to the city, calling it “redundant and unnecessary.” AZAGC also said heat safety was already covered in the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s statewide emphasis program and the descriptions of air conditioning access for cabbed vehicles were “very vague” and in need of clarification.



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