Home Builders Seek Better Cooperation with OSHA to Improve Worker Safety

Filed in Capitol Hill, Labor, Safety and Health by on February 27, 2018 3 Comments

NAHB today called on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to expand its small business compliance assistance to help home builders and other small business owners improve the safety of their operations.

Testifying on behalf of NAHB at a House subcommittee hearing on “a more effective and collaborative OSHA,” J. Gary Hill, a custom home builder from Greensboro, N.C. and 2018 chairman of the NAHB Construction Safety and Health Committee, told lawmakers that reforming and improving how OSHA operates is a top priority of the housing industry.

“In recent years, OSHA has unleashed a regulatory tsunami on the construction industry,” said Hill. “The significant growth in the number and scope of regulations, along with the associated costs of these regulations, has raised concerns from NAHB members about OSHA’s heavy-handed enforcement practices and procedures.”

According to the Small Business Administration, federal regulations cost small businesses 60% more per employee than it costs large businesses, and compliance with these regulations can average as much as $7,000 per employee.

“In our industry, a sizeable share of these regulations comes from OSHA, and the costs imposed by OSHA regulations are financially onerous to every aspect of the home building industry,” he said.

Though facing prohibitive regulatory costs, Hill underscored that a top priority for small home building firms is to create a safe workplace for their employees. It also makes good business sense.

“It is no secret that safety saves lives – and money,” he said. “We have learned that the money saved through reduced workers’ compensation costs, lost time due to worker injuries, and less time spent on accident claims and reports can be converted into improvements in the way employers operate their businesses. Moreover, a safe jobsite is also the key to retaining good employees and hiring new ones.”

Hill outlined three steps that OSHA can take to improve operating procedures to make regulatory compliance more cost effective and the agency more user-friendly for small businesses. At the same time, he noted how OSHA can boost housing affordability and continue to improve worker safety in the home building industry:

  • Focus agency efforts on providing employers with compliance assistance and training for existing regulations and standards so that OSHA is not needlessly piling on regulatory burdens that small businesses cannot effectively meet. By pursuing a collaborative relationship with trade associations and their members, OSHA will better be able to educate employers about the responsibilities specified in the agency’s standards and regulations.
  • Develop innovative ways to partner with employers to achieve compliance. Small employers need help understanding the complex OSHA regulatory regime and want assistance in identifying hazards that pose the greatest risk of a worker being injured.
  • Modernize methods to disseminate compliance assistance information to include video-based education segments and checklists viewable from computers, tablets and smartphones.

“By pursuing achievable reforms and leveraging the expertise of industry groups such as NAHB, Congress and the administration can succeed in making OSHA more user-friendly for small businesses while also improving worker safety,” said Hill.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Common Sense May Prevail After All! Congratulations to Gary Hill for his articulate and sensible suggestions!

  2. I have a video of me BEGGING and OSHA officer to tell me what my alleged violations on site were. Because i was recording our inspection, the officer locked himself in his truck and refused to talk to me. This video is massive testament to the need for reform among OSHA. J. Gary Hill and all business owners need to see this video. After begging the officer ( on video) for around 5 minutes, I finally requested the officer to leave the property. He continued to ignore me so I called the local police to have him removed. They refused to come to our site and I quote ” because there is nothing we can do.” OSHA has more authority than our local police
    force !! Because of the fact I tried to record our inspection, I was targeted. OSHA looked up our name on local permits and have targeted our small business job sites. One officer climbed up on our ladder, AFTER he was asked to leave our site. He refused to get off our ladder stating “I just need a minute to check the pitch of this residential roof.” An OSHA officer recently fell and was hurt in our area and she is suing the developer. I don’t want OSHA on my equipment!! I speak for myself and most local business owners when I say we fear OSHA and its group of shock and awe inspectors. The violations are just revenue generators, not problem solvers. I am wiling to fly anywhere and testify and show my real time video to everyone that needs to see it. Someone out there please join me in this cause. I feel as if I am in this alone and not even the police can help, even when OSHA repeatedly breaks the law.

  3. Mac Smith says:

    I am afraid to comment on this public forum. I am only doing so, that their may be others. You should not post here, but know that I am alone, asking for all of us, these questions. I am legal, but I also do avoid some permit fees, for the potential fall out that may follow. I really think the municipality would like to have those funds. As a remodeler, I am being regulated out of business. From OSHA to LEAD PAINT RENOVATIONS, I am sincerely afraid of our government today.

    I am a remodeler, and the fines are huge for my small business. I also avoid pulling permits for the Lead Paint Renovation Rules and excessive related fines.

    I don’t operate illegally, but those agencies have so much power, and they have flaunted it, that I am worried about losing my business.

    Anti-fall at just 6′ is a realistic evaluation of new construction needs for OSHA. For remodeling, I would want 1st story anti-fall restrictions. A single worker, replacing a ceiling fan, could be in violation of OSHA rulings, as I understand it today.

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