Construction Advocacy in Action
Friday, July 21, 2023
by: AGC of America Government Affairs Team

Section: Advocacy News

AGC Blocks Bad Policies

AGC successfully blocks a slew of new labor mandates and other harmful policies some members of Congress seek to include in the annual defense bill.   

On July 14, the House of Representative’s passed (219-210) its version National Defense Authorization Act bill. AGC successfully blocked several amendments that would negatively impact military construction contractors. Among other things, these amendments would:

  • Require prime contractors and subcontractors to be licensed in the state of the military construction project;
  • Establish local hiring preferences;
  • Increase greenhouse gas reporting requirements; and
  • Impose subjective criteria into the suspension and debarment process that would make it easier to blacklist contractors, among others.

The Senate is expected to finish voting on its version of the defense bill in the coming days. Likewise, AGC is advocating for the construction industry while the Senate finishes going through roughly 850 amendments. The House and Senate will vote on a final version later this year. Congress has passed the NDAA for more than 60 consecutive years and it is considered must-pass legislation, which is why AGC takes seriously any attempt to add harmful construction policy to it. AGC will continue to advocate for contractor priorities as the House and Senate work to a final NDAA.  

MSHA Proposes Silica Standard

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issues a proposal to update its existing standards on respirable crystalline silica.

On July 13, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued a proposal to update its existing standards to better protect miners against occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica, and to improve respiratory protection for all airborne hazards. MSHA’s proposal would cut the current permissible exposure limit (PEL) of respirable crystalline silica by half to 50 micrograms per cubic meter (mg/m3). The proposal would also include other requirements, such as exposure sampling, corrective actions to be taken when miner exposure exceeds the permissible exposure limit, and medical surveillance. Additionally, the proposal would replace existing requirements for respiratory protection.

The comment period is currently set to close on August 28; however, AGC plans to submit a request to extend the comment period by 60 days. Ahead of the comment deadline, the agency will hold three stakeholder meetings to provide industry, labor, and other interested parties an opportunity to present oral statements, written comments, and other information on the proposed rule. The meetings will be held on August 3 in Arlington, VA, August 10 in Beckley, WV, and August 21 in Denver, CO. Interested parties can register here.

OSHA Proposes New PPE Rule

OSHA issues a proposed rule to require employers to provide employees with proper-fitting PPE to protect them from occupational hazards.

On July 19, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to require employers to provide employees with proper-fitting PPE to protect them from occupational hazards. This move would align the construction, general industry, and maritime standards related to PPE and further emphasize the need for PPE that properly fits the variety of body types represented in construction while providing the intended protection.

AGC of America believes that PPE must fit properly to provide adequate protection to employees and is in the process of working with its safety and health committee to submit comments in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) ahead of the September 18 deadline.  

OSHA Finalizes Recordkeeping Rule

OSHA finalizes rule expanding recordkeeping requirements to ensure certain construction firms submit work-related injuries and illness data, potentially mischaracterizing a contractor’s safety and health program and record in the absence of proper context.

On July 17, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a final rule that expands the current recordkeeping requirements, and goes into effect on January 1, 2024, to mandate the submission of Form 300-Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses and Form 301-Injury and Illness Incident Report in addition to Form 300A-Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses data from construction establishments with 100 or more employees. Establishments with 20 to 99 employees continue to be required to submit only Form 300A-Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses data.

Of concern to AGC is OSHA’s intent to make the data collected publicly available on its website, which could result in the potential mischaracterization of a contractor’s safety and health program in the absence of proper context. While AGC believes that accurate reporting and recording of workplace injuries and illnesses is key to a contractor’s efforts to continuously improve their safety and health culture and performance, OSHA has not provided any supporting data to indicate that publicly disclosing this information will ultimately reduce occupational injuries and illnesses.