NEW REQUIREMENTS ON REPORTING WORKPLACE INJURIES

June 30, 2011

June 22, 2011
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA seeks comments on proposed updates, revisions to the
occupational injury and illness tracking and reporting requirements

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking an update and revision of two aspects of the agency’s recordkeeping and reporting requirements for work-related injuries and illnesses.

“These proposed recordkeeping updates will better enable OSHA, employers and workers to identify hazards in high-risk worksites,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “The proposed reporting revisions will enable OSHA to more effectively and efficiently target occupational safety and health hazards, preventing additional injuries and fatalities.”

The new proposed reporting requirements revised OSHA’s current regulation that requires an employer to report to OSHA, within eight hours, all work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. Under the revised proposal, employers would be required to report to OSHA any work-related fatalities and all in-patient hospitalizations within eight hours, and work-related amputations within 24 hours. Reporting amputations is not required under the current regulation.

OSHA is also proposing to update Appendix A of the recordkeeping rule (Part 1904 Subpart B) that lists industries partially exempt from the requirements to maintain work-related injury or illness logs. These industries received partial exemption because of their relatively low injury and illness rates. The current list of industries is based on the Standard Industrial Classification system. The North American Industry Classification System was introduced in 1997 to replace the SIC system for classifying establishments by industry. When OSHA issued the recordkeeping rule in 2001, the agency used the old SIC code system because injury and illness data were not yet available based on the NAICS. OSHA is also updating Appendix A in response to a 2009 Government Accountability Office report recommending that the agency update the coverage of the relevant recordkeeping requirements from the old SIC system to the newer NAICS.

OSHA is requesting public comments on the proposed revisions, and has included in the proposed rule’s preamble specific questions about issues and potential alternatives. Comments must be submitted by Sept. 20, 2011. See the Federal Register notice for details on how to submit comments. General and technical inquiries should be directed to Jens Svenson, OSHA Office of Statistical Analysis, at 202-693-2400.

To educate employers and employees on the proposed changes, OSHA updated its Recordkeeping Web page to include answers to frequently asked questions regarding the proposed rule. A link to the proposed rule itself also is available on the page.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to assure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

 

John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
•  Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
•  Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
www.Microshield-ES.com


Lead paint crackdown coming for remodelers

June 14, 2011

After a long wait, EPA is ramping up RRP enforcement against remodelers and other contractors

Byline: Scott von Gonten
Publication Date: Wed, 2011-06-08 13:47

Will the EPA ever really enforce the Residential Lead-Based Paint Regulations?
This question has prompted thousands of contractors and sub-contractors to unwisely postpone their Certified Renovator training and Certified Firm applications, which are required by the EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule). Well, for those contractors who have been waiting for the EPA to begin fining companies for lead-related violations, it has finally happened! These recent fines have caused a huge panic in the building industry because it is now crystal clear that the EPA will enforce residential lead-based paint regulations.

A flurry of recent EPA fines
Most recently, the EPA announced on May 16 that a Rockland, Maine renovator is facing penalties related to alleged violations that occurred in October 2010.
As per the EPA’s investigation, the contractor, who had personally completed the required RRP Rule eight-hour training class, failed to: 1) obtain firm certification from the EPA, 2) post warning signs, 3) contain the work area, 4) contain waste from the renovation activities, 5) properly train his co-workers, 6) prohibit the use of high-speed paint removal machines without HEPA exhaust control, and 7) establish and maintain records necessary to demonstrate compliance with the RRP Rule.
Remember, the maximum penalty for the alleged violations is up to $37,500 per violation per day! Do you know how he was discovered? The EPA received a tip, from someone across the street from the renovation, who took a video and posted it on YouTube! The EPA promises to follow through on tips, such as this example, to identify if violations have jeopardized public health.
There are many other recent examples of the EPA cracking down on lead paint violations:
• On March 23 a Connecticut window and siding company was fined, and has agreed to pay, $30,702 for failing to distribute the required Renovate Right pamphlets to homeowners and residents prior to renovations. This settlement stemmed from an EPA inspection and the subsequent documentation the company submitted to the EPA.

• On March 31 a major St. Louis window company was fined, and has agreed to pay, $19,529 in civil penalties, plus the company will perform a supplemental environmental project worth $20,048. These fines again stemmed from a failure to distribute the Renovate Right pamphlets, which is required by the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act.

• On April 6, a California painting company was fined, and has agreed to pay $32,508.00 for violating the federal Pre-Renovation Rule by failing to distribute the Renovate Right pamphlets. The EPA further stipulated that the company “failed to establish and maintain records necessary to demonstrate compliance with the Toxic Substances Control Act regulations.”

• On April 12, a Maine property management company, which operates in 13 states, was fined, and has agreed to pay, $3,542 and will perform an abatement project valued at $31,884 to settle EPA claims that it violated both the federal lead-based paint disclosure requirements as well as the federal Pre-Renovation Rule. The property management company failed to distribute the Renovate Right pamphlets prior to renovations.

• The EPA announced on April 21 that a major Omaha, Neb., window company was fined, and has agreed to pay, $3,976 in civil penalties, and will perform a supplemental environmental project worth $11,928, for violating the federal Pre-Renovation Rule by failing to distribute the Renovate Right pamphlets prior to working on pre-1978 residential properties.

Even as recently as early May 2011, the EPA’s Region 6, which covers Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, sent letters, to contractors, confirming visits to the contractors’ offices to review the overall level of compliance with the Lead-Based Paint Regulations.
That’s right; the EPA will be physically reviewing the contractors’ paperwork for ALL of their renovations or modifications performed on pre-1978 properties over the last three years. The EPA will obtain copies of certain documents so that compliance with the RRP Rule (or lack of compliance) can be evaluated.
You know what that means. How many of these contractors are going to have the proper records? In fact, how many of these contractors are going to have NO records at all? Do YOU know what records to keep? Do YOU know how to properly document your renovations? By the way, some of the contractors who received letters were randomly selected by what is called a “Neutral Inspection Scheme,” which could be as easy as a simple Internet search for renovators or contractors!
This is just the beginning of EPA’s enforcement of lead-related issues within the residential construction industry. More reports of violations are being released constantly. Remember, the Toxic Substances Control Act Section 402(a)(3) directs the Environmental Protection Agency to establish and implement a fee program to recover, for the U.S. Treasury, the cost of administering and enforcing the lead-based paint activities requirements. The EPA is highly motivated to find violators and is actively doing so.

Who does the RRP Rule Affect?
Since long before the RRP Rule was enforced, I have been keeping general contractors, sub-contractors, remodelers, builders, property managers, painters, mechanical contractors, maintenance workers, and many others, informed and educated about the RRP Rule to keep them out of trouble.
These federal regulations affect ALL contractors and ALL sub-contractors, and even individuals, who get paid to do renovations. If you scrape, sand, abrade, cut a hole in, puncture, remove, or demolish any painted or surface-coated component, you have “disturbed” that surface, and the RRP Rule may apply.
Since the confusing RRP Rule is so specific and has such tiny minimums, virtually 100 percent of renovations on pre-1978 target housing and child-occupied facilities are affected by this legislation in some way. Many contractors have taken the “wait and see” approach to verify if the EPA was actually going to enforce the RRP Rule.

Three-Year Window of Liability

Far too many contractors have delayed taking the Certified Renovator training and have continued to add new illegally completed jobs to their risk burden, all with three-year windows of liability from the time of completion.
Remember, the EPA can simply “randomly” search for contractors or can specifically research renovation jobs, at anytime within 36 months after the jobs were finished, and contact the contractor to audit his or her required paperwork.
When the EPA asks for the proper documentation, how many contractors will say, “What paperwork?” Well, you can imagine the devastating chain of events that would follow that statement! Those contractors will definitely be in deep distress (among other things).

Scott von Gonten, CGA, CGP, LLRA, SHA, CR, CDST, a 24-year veteran of the building industry, is a licensed lead risk assessor and consultant, and a principal instructor, nationwide, for the National Center for Healthy Housing, an EPA-accredited training provider for Certified Renovator and Certified Dust Sampling Technician training. You can contact him at svongonten@conserveiq.com [1] or (713) 213-1205.
For more information on lead paint, including training opportunities, articles and more, visit www.LeadPaintProfessor.com

 

John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
•  Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
•  Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
www.Microshield-ES.com


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