Recent OSHA activity indicates possible changes in the scope and enforcement of the newly-created Improve Tracking of Workplace Injury and Illnesses Rule (Electronic Reporting Rule). OSHA intends to collect less data than the rule requires in order to address concerns about publicizing personally identifiable information (PII). This move suggests other changes to the rule may follow.  Continue Reading Recent OSHA Regulatory Shifts May Address Concerns About Electronically Submitting Workplace Injury and Illness Data

A recent federal appeals court decision rejected a challenge to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s new rule for respirable crystalline silica (silica) exposure in the construction industry (the Silica Rule), keeping the rule largely intact. This new rule lowers the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for silica to fifty micrograms per cubic meter (50μ/m3) from the previous construction industry standard of 250 μ/m3. At the time OSHA began enforcing the Silica Rule on September 23, 2017, there still remained pending in federal court a challenge to the rule brought by multiple industry groups (Industry), mostly consisting of commercial construction trade associations representing general contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers.  Continue Reading ICYMI: Federal Appeals Court Upholds New OSHA Silica Rule

UPDATE: On November 22, 2017, OSHA announced that it moved the electronic reporting deadline for 2016 data and information from December 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017. The following blog post has been updated to reflect this change. No other parts of the new electronic submission regulations were changed.

December 15, 2017 is the final deadline to comply with the newly implemented Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) regulations that require electronically submitting 2016 workplace injury data and information to OSHA. To help navigate these regulations, here are few reminders about this new reporting format that affects almost all construction industry businesses.

Continue Reading One Final Reminder: OSHA Electronic Records Submission Deadline December 15, 2017

The City of Philadelphia has issued new code requirements for construction worker safety training. The new rules went into effect on October 1, 2015, and the Department of Licenses and Inspections has announced that strict enforcement will begin on April 1, 2016.

Under the new regulations, all contractors and employees (including subcontractors) performing construction or demolition work in the City of Philadelphia for which permits have been issued are now required to complete OSHA 10 safety training, or an approved equivalent. This requirement applies to all trades, as well as state-registered home improvement contractors. Workers are required to carry written proof establishing that they have completed an OSHA 10 training course while on the job site, and their employers must also maintain on-site proof of completion for each worker. This information must be furnished to the Department of Licenses and Inspections upon request. The OSHA 10 training is only required to be completed once and does not expire.

Additionally, all contractors licensed under Section 9-1004 of the Philadelphia Code must employ at least one supervisory employee who has completed OSHA 30 safety training, or an approved equivalent, within the past 5 years. Construction or demolition of major buildings requires continuous oversight by a site safety manager who has completed an OSHA 30 course. The designated site safety manager must carry an identification card or certificate of completion issued by the provider of the OSHA 30 training course.

Continue Reading Attention Philadelphia Contractors: Do You Comply with OSHA Training and Supervision Requirements?

As we discussed last summer, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new Confined Space in Construction Standard, which went into effect on August 3, 2015 and required heightened training, continuous worksite evaluations and communication for all construction workers performing work in manholes, crawl spaces, tanks and other confined spaces not intended for continuous occupancy that are located on construction projects.  Enforcement of the new standard was postponed through October 2, 2015 for all contractors covered by the standard to provide additional time to train and acquire necessary equipment.  In October 2015, OSHA further extended the temporary enforcement delay through January 8, 2016, but this time limited the extension to contractors performing residential construction work, which includes those contractors working on single-family homes, duplexes and townhouses.  The extension did not apply to contractors working on multi-unit apartment buildings.  Earlier this month, OSHA issued a memorandum that again extended the delayed enforcement of the standard through March 8, 2016 for residential construction work.

Under the delay policy, OSHA will not issue citations to contractors engaged in residential construction work if the contractor is making good faith efforts to comply with the confined space standard, as long as the contractor complies with either the training requirements of the new standard, found at 29 CFR 1926.1207, or the former training requirements, found at 29 CFR 1926.21(b)(6)(i).

Factors considered by OSHA to determine if a contractor is engaged in good faith compliance efforts include:

  • If the contractor has not trained its employees as required under the new standard, whether the employer has scheduled such training;
  • If the contractor does not have the equipment required for compliance with the new standard, including personal protective equipment, whether the contractor has ordered or otherwise arranged to obtain such equipment required for compliance and is taking alternative measures to protect employees from confined space hazards; and
  • Whether the contractor has engaged in any additional efforts to educate workers about confined space hazards and protect workers from those hazards.

Full enforcement of the confined spaces standard for non-residential contractors remains in effect, and those contractors should continue to comply with the standard’s requirements.  We will continue to monitor the enforcement of the standard for residential projects.

Lisa M. Wampler is a Partner in the Construction Group of Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC. She has an active and diverse construction litigation practice and represents owners, general contractors, construction managers and the different trades in complex matters involving all phases of the construction process.

Lori Wisniewski Azzara is an Associate at Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC. Lori practices in the areas of construction and commercial litigation and has experience in contract negotiation, claims for delay and inefficiency, mechanics’ liens, and all types of contractual dispute.

Last month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) added a new rule that provides increased protections to those working in confined spaces on construction projects.  The new rule, which goes into effect on August 3, 2015, applies to manholes, crawl spaces, tanks and other confined spaces not intended for continuous occupancy that are located on construction projects.  OSHA predicts that the new rule will prevent approximately 780 serious injuries and 5 deaths each year.

Manhole without cover in the concrete block

Confined spaces are defined as those that (1) are large enough for an employee to enter; (2) have limited means of entry or exit; and (3) are not designed for continuous occupancy.  The rule provides construction workers in confined spaces with the same protections already afforded to workers in manufacturing and general industry but differs in several construction-specific respects.  “Unlike most general industry worksites, construction sites are continually evolving, with the number and characteristics of confined spaces changing as work progresses.  This rule emphasizes training, continuous worksite evaluation and communication requirements to further protect workers’ safety and health,” according to Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

The new rule requires a “competent person” to initially evaluate the project site and identify all confined spaces.  Employers must then train their employees on the existence, location and dangers posed by each confined space.  Workers not authorized to perform entry rescues must also be trained on the dangers of attempting such rescues.  Employers are further required to coordinate with emergency services before workers enter certain confined space.  After this pre-entry planning is conducted, employers must continually monitor the confined space for air contaminant and engulfment hazards.

Communication is heavily emphasized in the new rule.  Because multiple contractors are likely present on a project site, each with its own workers needing to enter the confined space, contractors are required to coordinate and share safety information with each other.  The controlling contractor, such as the general contractor, is responsible for ensuring compliance with the new rule by its subcontractors and visitors to the project site.

Contractors who have employees or subcontractors working in confined spaces should familiarize themselves with the new rule’s requirements and immediately start implementing them.  Significant fine and citations can be issued for each violation of the new rule.  Additional information and compliance assistance materials are available on OSHA’s Confined Spaces website.

Lisa M. Wampler is a Partner in the Construction Group of Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC.

Lori Wisniewski Azzara is an Associate at Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC. Lori practices in the areas of construction and commercial litigation and has experience in contract negotiation, claims for delay and inefficiency, mechanics’ liens, and all types of contractual disputes.

heat.jpg By: Jennifer M. Horn The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a new smart phone application that will “enable workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites in order to prevent heat-related illnesses.” The heat index application will allow a manager to quickly determine the heat risk at a job site and provide tips and ideas for how employees can avoid over heating such as:

  • drink fluids;
  • take breaks;
  • plan for and know what to do in an emergency;
  • adjust work operations, if possible, to avoid peak heat hours;
  • build up the workload for new workers gradually, not suddenly;
  • get trained on heat illness signs and symptoms; and
  • monitor each other for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.

The free application will be available in both English and Spanish and can be downloaded from the OSHA website. Employers and employees alike have an interest in preventing heat related illness at the job site. Hopefully, the new OSHA smart phone application will aid in this effort. Jennifer M. Horn is Senior Counsel at Cohen Seglias and a member of the Construction Group. She concentrates her practice in the areas of construction litigation and real estate.