Is the Remodeling Industry Ready for OSHA?
Remodelers have been dramatically affected by the EPA’s recent RRP rule. The rule essentially caught the industry by surprise. Not because we didn’t know that lead was a problem, but because the industry did nothing to address the lead problem.
Because we did nothing, the EPA stepped up and told us what it thought we should do. Remodelers don’t like what the EPA has dictated regarding lead and many think someone should have prevented this from happening the way it did. We have to admit that the remodeling industry, like many other industries, is once again reactive because it is almost never proactive.
I think complaining about the RRP and EPA after the fact is like complaining about who got elected and what they are now doing, then having to admit you didn’t vote.
Don’t like the RRP rule and what the EPA is or isn’t doing about it? Don’t exhaust all your energy on RRP; save some for OSHA compliance. David Michaels, the head of OSHA, says that after 40 years the agency needs to fundamentally transform the way it addresses workplace hazards and its relationship to employers and workers. Michaels says it’s time for OSHA to "take a different road."
Here is an excerpt from a letter
Michaels sent to OSHA staff on July 19, 2010, titled "OSHA at Forty: New Challenges and New Directions":"We have been fortunate that OSHA's budget was increased last year, and President Obama's budget asks for more funds in FY 2011. In this time of fiscal difficulty, the White House and Congress recognize the importance of our work and the need for us to expand our activities.
It is clear to me that doing more of the same, but doing it better and with more resources, is necessary, but it is not nearly enough.
After forty years, OSHA needs a fundamental transformation in the way we address workplace hazards, and in our relationship to employers and workers. And I need your assistance and guidance in determining how to make the key changes that will make OSHA stronger and more effective."
Michael’s letter goes on to include an extensive list of new strategies OSHA will use to get employers to "do the right thing." One significant point in his letter is that the agency is shifting personnel away from its cooperative programs and toward enforcement. This means OSHA is seeking to accomplish its goals through more inspections and will be doing far less in proactively assisting businesses with compliance. In an Aug. 20, 2010, blog, Fred Hosier, editor of SafetyNewsAlert.com, offered his list of the "Top 10 ways new OSHA changes will affect you." Most disturbing to me is No. 3 on his list:
"Regulation by shaming. OSHA hopes public condemnation of business activities that result in serious injury or death will act as a deterrent. The agency will issue more hard-hitting press releases that explain clearly why an employer faced a large fine."
Think this won’t affect remodeling? Think again. In this video, Joe Ceccarelli, a trainer with Safety Trainers in Worcester, Mass., warns remodelers that OSHA will be targeting the residential construction industry. He was made aware of this fact when he attended a session presented by Martha Kent, Region 1 Area Director for OSHA, at a safety industry conference in November. OSHA Region 1 has hired 250 additional field inspectors and 40 of those have been assigned to Massachusetts alone.
OSHA requirements related to our industry aren’t new; they have been out there for years. Until now, OSHA has pretty much ignored our industry, so our industry has ignored OSHA compliance. Our industry can’t claim to be surprised by what it will need to do to come into compliance. For average remodelers, I predict it will completely overwhelm them when they find out what is necessary and what it will cost.
Get ready. To quote Joe: "They are coming, they are out there and they will be stopping by your jobsite."