On Dec. 22, AGC again pushed back on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) effort to establish a one-sized-fits-all national standard for heat injury and illness prevention in outdoor and indoor settings.
Along with construction industry partners, AGC put forth extensive arguments against such an approach in response to the agency’s Small Business Advocacy Review panel report, including that:
- The proposed initial ambient temperature heat trigger of 82°F and an initial heat index trigger of 80°F, and high-heat ambient and heat index triggers of 90°F and 87°F, respectively, not only fail to account for the unique climatic conditions across the United States, but they also lack any scientific backing or support;
- The proposed regulatory acclimatization schedules for two groups of workers: new workers and those workers returning to the worksite after having been away from the job for some period (the “returning worker”) must allow for flexibility; and
- The proposal to require 10- or 15-minute breaks every two hours, depending on the heat triggers, do not account for the actual work being performed and could undermine the safety of the worksite.
With the near completion of this small business review step in the regulatory process, OSHA still must put forth a proposed standard and finalize it, among other things, that normally take several years. The political pressure to rush this process, however, is exceptional. Rest assured, AGC is working to ensure that the agency follows the regulatory process and steps back from establishing prescriptive and unworkable requirements.
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