Political Advocacy Updates

Current Status on OSHA confined space requirements!
OSHA further extends confined space enforcement deadline

OSHA’s Confined Spaces in Construction standard was published in May 2015 and took effect in August. A temporary enforcement policy was in effect for all covered employers through October 2. OSHA has now extended that temporary enforcement policy through January 8, 2016, but only for employers engaged in residential construction work. Nonresidential construction employers please note—your confined space activities are now subject to the standard.

In a memorandum on the extension, the agency explains that, before January 8, it “will not issue citations under the confined spaces in construction standard to an employer engaged in residential construction work if the employer is making good-faith efforts to comply with the standard, as long as the employer is in compliance with either the training requirements of the standard … or the former training requirements….”

Under that provision, “All employees required to enter into confined or enclosed spaces shall be instructed as to the nature of the hazards involved, the necessary precaution to be taken, and in the use of protective equipment required. The employer shall comply with any specific regulations that apply to work in dangerous or potentially dangerous areas.”

What does OSHA mean by ‘good-faith efforts?’
The following factors will be considered by OSHA when evaluating whether an employer is engaged in good-faith efforts to comply with the new standard.

  • The employer has not trained its employees as required under the new standard and whether the employer has scheduled such training

  • The employers does not have the equipment required for compliance with the new standard, including personal protective equipment, and whether the employer has ordered or arranged to obtain such equipment and is taking alternative measures to protect employees from confined space hazards

  • The employer has engaged in any additional efforts to educate workers about confined space hazards and protect them from those hazards

  • The new Confined Spaces in Construction standard (29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA) provides construction workers with protections similar to those in place for manufacturing and general industry workers, with some differences tailored to construction work. An example is ensuring that multiple employers share vital safety information.

The rule includes detailed training requirements for workers involved in, or affected by, confined space entry operations. Before the release of Subpart AA, construction employers were required to train employees entering confined spaces “on the nature of the hazards involved, the necessary precautions to be taken, and in the use of protective and emergency equipment.”
Routine tasks such as installing spray-foam insulation in attics or installing plumbing in a crawlspace will require documented safety plans, and in some cases stationing an additional person outside the space to grant access.

Which has long applied to confined spaces such as tunnels and manholes — now specifies crawl spaces and attics due to recent fatalities. Two workers died while applying primer to floor joists in a crawl space. They were burned when an incandescent work lamp ignited vapors from the primer. In another incident, a flash fire killed a worker who was spraying foam insulation in an enclosed attic. The fire was caused by poor ventilation. OSHA estimates the rule will prevent nearly 800 serious injuries per year.

Under the new rule (29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA), permits to access specific confined spaces are granted by the general contractor or lead contractor on each job. There are numerous safe entry procedures requiring planning and preparation by the contractor ahead of time.

The rule will apply to any space that meets the following three criteria:

  • Is large enough for a worker to enter it;

  • Has limited means of entry or exit; and

  • Is not designed for continuous occupancy.


A space may also be a permit-required confined space if it has a hazardous atmosphere, the potential for suffocation, a layout that might trap a worker through converging walls or a sloped floor, or any other serious safety or health hazard.
Under the new rule, permits to access specific confined spaces are granted by the general contractor or lead contractor on each job. There are numerous safe entry procedures requiring planning and preparation by the contractor ahead of time.
Employers will be required to train workers to ensure they know about the existence, location, and dangers posed by each permit-required confined space.

For additional information, contact Jess Traver,
Director of Government Affairs, at 775-329-4611 x.104 


City of Reno Reduces Building Fees 35%  - effective September 1, 2014

During the August 27 Reno City Council Meeting, BANN President Teresa Di Loreto and Past BANN President/BEFAC Chairman Curtis Rowe spoke in favor of the staff recommended 35% reduction of building fees.  The fee reduction is a good indicator that when housing is doing well, it spurs jobs and contributes to economic growth.  Housing provides the momentum behind an economic recovery because home building and associated businesses employ such a wide range of workers. With the right policies in place, housing can be a key engine of job growth that Reno needs.  Did you know that for every $1,000 in added costs to a new home, over 250,000 prospective families are effectively priced out of the national market?  We must congratulate Reno Council and Staff on their prudence to use fees properly and promote a dynamic Reno economy.  Thanks Reno

Notes:

NRS 354.59891 states that the City may maintain a balance of unreserved working capital in the Enterprise Fund (Building Fund) that does not exceed 50% of the annual operating costs and capital expenditures for the program. If a balance in excess of the amount authorized is kept for two (2) consecutive years, the City shall reduce the fees. As of June 30, 2014, the excess working capital was $3,612,466 and therefore a fee reduction of 35% is recommended to ensure that the Building Enterprise fund does not exceed 50% of the annual operating and capital expenditures for Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2015. The FY14/15 Building Enterprise Fund budget is $7.6 million.

The Building Enterprise Fund is a restricted account to fund building permit and inspection activity in the City. The Building Enterprise Fund Advisory Committee (BEFAC), made up of representatives from the building industry, was created February 18, 2003 to assist with monitoring the fund and advising the Council. The fee reduction proposal was brought to the BEFAC on July 22, 2014. At the meeting, the BEFAC voted to support a reduction of building fees to be in compliance with NRS 354.59891. There was also a discussion about maintaining the service level which is that 90% of all building applications are initially reviewed within the first 10 days. As of June 2014, the building application review process from our development review disciplines was 96.6% of all applications were reviewed within the first 10 days.

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