Changes for OSHA Construction Requirements in 2022

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The Biden administration has been working in multiple industries to reinstate rules and regulations revoked during the Trump administration. There also are ongoing efforts to implement some regulations and enforcement strategies originally proposed during the Obama administration, as well as some that previously had not made it past the discussion stage. Many of these developments directly impact the construction industry and OSHA’s safety regulations.

Rebuilding OSHA

During the Trump administration, many OSHA positions, especially for inspectors and senior administrators, were eliminated or went unfilled. With the goal of increasing safety inspections and enforcement, one key move is to reinstate the Site-Specific Targeting Inspection Program that subjects high-risk worksites and businesses that have not complied with existing reporting requirements to more frequent inspections.

Enhancing Recordkeeping Requirements

In early 2022, OSHA proposed amending certain recordkeeping regulations to match more closely what was initially envisioned by the Obama administration. The proposed changes require more rigorous reporting of injuries and illnesses, specifically reducing the size of companies subject to such reporting and requiring the injury/illness data to be posted online.

Targeting Heat Injury and Illness

The objective of the first OSHA National Emphasis Program (NEP), announced in April 2022, is to establish regulations to reduce the occurrence of heat-related illnesses and injuries in the workplace. Construction is one of 70 high-risk industries that will be subject to inspections and OSHA outreach efforts when high temperatures are anticipated by the National Weather Service—specifically when:

  • NWS issues a local heat warning or advisory
  • When the heat index is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

As you can imagine, this rule is of some concern to employers in warmer parts of the country.

Decertifying Arizona’s State Occupational Safety and Health Plan

In April 2022, OSHA publicly announced its intent to decertify Arizona State plan as the result of “nearly a decade long pattern of failures to adopt and enforce sufficiently effective standards and enforcement policies.” Arizona has protested the decertification move.

Making the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for Health Care Permanent

The COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard was the first ETS ever implemented by OSHA. The proposed permanent standard would apply to any construction activities taking place inside a healthcare facility. Because of previous actions by the U.S. Supreme Court and a missed deadline for issuing a permanent standard, OSHA is back to the drawing board, at the beginning of the rulemaking process.

It’s likely that the pace of rule changes and the implementation of new regulations will continue or quicken moving forward, making it important for businesses in the construction industry to stay abreast of new developments.

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