Feds Seek Feedback on Regs

redtapeThe Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy is combing through two recent executive orders issued by President Trump for their impact, and also wants to hear from the small businesses themselves.

Unlike other government agencies, the SBA’s mission is to advance the views, concerns, and interests of small businesses before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts and state policymakers.

“As an independent voice for small business within the federal government, Advocacy has a unique and important role to aid agency implementation of the executive orders,” the SBA said in a press release issued May 10 announcing the creation of an online form that businesses are invited to complete.

The form is intended to capture which federal agency regulations are causing problems for small businesses. Answers will be sent to the appropriate federal agency so they can identify which regulations are most burdensome.

In addition, SBA is planning a series of “regulatory roundtables” in cities across the nation at dates to be determined. Once the schedule is made public, NAHB will contact the state and local HBAs where the roundtables will take place to coordinate speakers and together voice the building industry’s concerns.

For additional information, contact Susan Asmus at 800-368-5242 x8538.

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  1. OSHA is one of the more burdensome regulators in our industry. Although OSHA is a wonderfully needed agency to prevent injury and construction deaths, small business employers are greatly burden by, not the regulations, but the rules governing such. Employers cannot be held 100% responsible for the actions of it’s employees. We employ a full time safety officer, all employees are trained and certified through the OSHA Standards training requirements, trained in other methods as well to prevent falls and injuries and still do not adhere to the practices set for by OSHA or the employer. When this happens an OSHA sees violations they automatically fine the employers. The burden here needs to somewhat rely to the employee as well. The workforce today is very slim, it is very difficult to to find help of any kind, much less “good help” to provide quality production for clients. Fines are assessed by OSHA immediately with no form of warnings, and usually at a minimum of $2,500.00 per violation per violator. If employees have been provided traning, have been provided all equipment and trained to use the same, this burden must in someway fall on the employee as well as having OSHA issue warnings so that the employer can “deal” and “correct” a issue without exuberant fines issued as a “first time:” solution to correct these issues”

  2. Tom Tucker says:

    I strongly agree with Robert. As it is now the only consequence for non compliance rests on employers. If employees are equally held to the standard (in the form of fines) I believe there will be less violations. If OSHA was truly concerned about workplace safety, they would apply it to all: employees and the employer. This is not to abdicate the responsibility of an employer to train in safety procedures or provide necessary equipment. However, if an employee willfully and knowingly chooses not to comply, the financial burden of a fine should rest on the employee.

    • As well, employees in certain, most, circumstances are interviewed onsite by OSHA officers in a privet setting without any form of representation for the employer at all. We as employers are afforded no due process whatsoever in the processing of fines or otherwise. Employees, lets face, at times become resentful towards employers due to polices that are merely set in place for the benefit of the employee as well as the employer. Any smart business man should, and most do, know that there has to be equal opportunity on both sides of the isle to make things work smoothly as to the benefit to everyone. These interviews, also determine the decision of the OSHA officer to regulate such fines and penalties.

    • Tom: You are completely right about employee responsibility. If the guys on a job saw one of their peers get a citation and a fine, they would wear their safety harnesses to bed at night (metaphorically speaking) and conformity with safety laws would skyrocket.

      Therein lies the problem. OSHA inspectors, as well as many state agency inspectors such as L&I here in Washington state, depend upon the revenues raised through these citations to fund their own jobs. If everyone was in conformity with safety laws, there would be less revenue to raise to support the jobs of safety inspectors. Thus, less safety inspectors. That is the conundrum.

  3. Melvin Menuck says:

    Tom hit the proverbial nail on the head

  4. A Regulation I would like to address in the FLSA Laws that are now in place originating in 1938 due to a depression situation and employers not paying employees for work rendere. We were sued by an employee for overtime hours worked. The employee claimed he worked 10 hours overtime for six weeks and was entitled to time and a half for the overtime hours worked (every Saturday for six weeks). The problem here lies in the due process of such suits as the employee merely wlatz into an attorneys office with no proof other than his word and start a law suit with the employer. The employer has then, the obligation of providing the burden of proof upon him or herself for a law suit that has been filed with no physical evidence. We were sued by an employee in this manner, proved that due to one clerical error he was owed one half hour. In order to prove this trial is necessary and to prove one half hour owed would be a guilty verdict and exorbitant amounts of attorneys fees as well as time. Settlements were made for $5,000.00 for worked never performed ? Purpose of regulation changed: to prevent frivolous and nuisance suits to be filed

  5. Darren says:

    Regulations that are new to an industry are a problem. Implementing new electrical regulations/changes in a plant this was up to date before the regulations but not in compliance after changes was never on our “radar” or my industry’s radar, but they wrote us up for it. OSHA inspector; “You were ok 6 months ago, but they changed that regulation”, thus fines AND required changes. They wrote us for any and everything they thought was an imfraction, of which over half were dismissed because i knew the regulations better than they did. Director said we have a new directive: “we are to be self funding organization”. Because OSHA was in our plant we got 6 fines for a new employee who was trained that he did not need respirators for the job he was performing, but he thought it was best to put on another persons respirator to go ask his supervisor, who was in a grinding booth, a question. Literally 30 seconds of “doing the right thing” cost us $18k in fines when all he had to do was walk into the booth with safety glasses on and ask the question. Choice to pay $18k or fight it in court at cost of $30k+ It would be nice to have a new directive to make the workplace safe as a priority instead of generating income and allowing the use of Common Sense again.

  6. Gordon Root says:

    The expansion of WOTUS, Wetland Determinations, increased setbacks, permitting time from local agencies and the Army Corps of Engineers. These regulations continue to become ever so more stringent, to the point of being ridiculous. Even when you are pro-actively engaged in the process, it still often takes between 9 and 12 months.

  7. Harry Crowell says:

    We all suffer the same problem.
    When an employee violates proper working rules and is injured, they may suffer the pain of the injury. The employer gets the fine regardless of the cause!
    The rules should follow the reason for the injury and fine violator, which is normally the employee that was not paying attention, disregarding working rules or a drug or alcohol affected movement.
    The employer should not be fined at all.

  8. Deb Crossley says:

    I Chair a Public Facilities committee overseeing public buildings projects during an aggressive rebuilding period in our small (pop. 88,000) city. I’m also an architect who spends a lot of time in the field observing the work and reviewing jobs progress with builders and project managers. Three school and two fire station projects are CM ‘at risk’ and have all run like clockwork. Clean sites, well organized and no one steps into the construction zone without proper attire, instructions and a guide if you are not one of the crew. All employees know the rules and must abide or they are out. Only one minor accident in five years. No OSHA violations. No legal disputes. It is top down management setting clear expectations, respect for everyone’s role and responsibilities goes both ways. I can understand it not being fair if you have a rogue worker who defies the rules and still tries to hold the company accountable, but life-safety rules should not be compromised for that person.

    On the other hand, I see challenges on many smaller projects – where public work and private small business and homeowners choose, the lowest bidder. Requiring the use of a lowest bidder on government projects – infrastructure or space programs – is something that deserves review. Every few projects there is one where the company fails to perform the contract, and a poorly managed and unsafe worksite often goes along with that. That’s a pain, costs everyone time and sometimes legal battles – but again – the rules do help us sort it out.

    Inspectors are challenged to keep up with the scofflaws out there, even though it is a small percentage of builders who ignore best practices, who don’t maintain safe boundaries, who create a mess for abutters , etc – it takes a toll to deal with them. Again, having clear rules aid the process, to the benefit of most – and actually help us to level the playing field among builders so the best builders are appreciated for the care they take to run a good ship.

    Finally, I would also be careful what we wish for in eliminating environmental protections. Construction processes can be toxic and buildings shouldn’t go just anywhere just because we can. Over 35 years of doing this, I have observed the enormous waste in how we design buildings and run construction sites – hurts the entire industry over time. I don’t mind rules that help to better manage resources so there’ll be some for the next and future generations. – As long as we are all required to play by the same rules. We should be building a robust resource recovery industry that really works. The world isn’t big enough to landfill the amount of materials we discard.

    I for one, am concerned about the prospect of eliminating too many rules that ensure relatively safer and healthier conditions on the worksite – and in our communities, for the sake of short term job numbers.
    I’m all for running a more efficient operation, and fair play. But all regulation is not ‘job-killing’.

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