OSHA Regulations
A Shorter Leash for OSHA & Other Federal Agencies

I realize that most roofing contractors would choose having a Brazilian waxing

administered by a blind, sadistic nun rather than being bestowed the honor of a visit

from OSHA.  Well, that favorite political department, along with several other agencies,

is being put on a shorter leash.  It’s no secret that when a new administration takes

over the White House, they push their own political views and agendas, and adjust

federal agency policies accordingly.  OSHA, it seems, is always at the forefront and one of the first agencies to be put in the crosshairs.  Right now that’s good news for roofing contractors.

According to the Department of Labor’s Updated Agenda from July, the Trump administration has signed an executive order demanding OSHA update it’s policies.  They state that by amending and eliminating regulations that are ineffective, duplicative, and obsolete, the administration can promote economic growth and innovation and protect individual liberty.  Executive Orders 13771 and 13777 require agencies, including OSHA, to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden and to enforce regulatory reform initiatives.  As a step in the right direction, the first five months of this administration produced quantifiable annualized cost savings estimated at $22 million, compared to $6.8 billion in annualized costs due to rules finalized during the last five months of fiscal year 2016.

The Department of Labor went on to state that the agenda represents ongoing progress toward the goals of more effective and less burdensome regulations that include the following developments: agencies withdrew 469 actions proposed in the Fall 2016 agenda; agencies reconsidered 391 active actions by reclassifying them as long term, 282, and inactive, 109, allowing for further careful review; and economically significant regulations fell to 58, or about 50% less than Fall 2016.  For the first time, agencies will post and make public their list of inactive rules, providing notice to the public of regulations still being reviewed or considered.

An additional executive order signed by President Trump in January requires that federal agencies cut two regulations for every new one that is proposed.  This is one order that should be applauded by every United States business owner who has ever felt buried by government regulations.  President Trump also struck down the Volks rule, a regulation that allowed OSHA to issue citations for inadequate injury and illness recordkeeping for 5-1/2 years.  This will revert the recordkeeping rule to the six-month statute of limitations.

Also removed from the regulatory agenda: Combustible Dust; Occupational Exposure to Styrene; Blood-borne Pathogens; Revocation of Obsolete Permissible Exposure Limits; Preventing Backover Injuries and Fatalities; 1-Bromopropane Standard; Updating Requirements for the Selection, Fit Testing, and Use of Hearing Protection Devices; and Noise in Construction.

The Trump administration has now listed under long-term actions:  Infectious Disease; Emergency Response and Preparedness; Shipyard Fall Protection: Scaffolds, Ladders, and Other Working Surfaces; Tree Care Standard; Update to the Hazard Communication Standard; Amendments to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard; Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements: Musculoskeletal Disorders Column; Process Safety Management and Prevention of Major Chemical Accidents; Prevention of Workplace Violence in Health Care and Social Assistance; Process Safety Management and Prevention of Major Chemical Accidents; and Rules of Agency Practice and Procedure Concerning OSHA Access to Employee Medical Records.  The recent fall protection ruling, issued by the Obama administration in November 2016 and effective since January of this year, will remain in effect.

While this news may not be everything a roofing contractor could possibly wish for, overall, these new executive orders look to be a step in the right direction.  Don’t touch that dial, though.  It ain’t over yet.

Marc Dodson