On July 26, top OSHA officials—including OSHA head Douglas Parker—met with AGC in conjunction with the association’s Construction Safety, Health & Environmental Conference in Washington, D.C. George Palko, AGC’s Highway and Transportation Division Chair, represented the group at this meeting. Robust conversations were held on the regulatory landscape facing construction contractors, including a future OSHA rulemaking on establishing a national heat standard. AGC contractors had the opportunity to impart real-world impacts of OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Outdoor and Indoor Heat-Related Hazards, including the 80 degree trigger, reduced work days to allow acclimatization for new workers and those returning from vacation, and body temperature and heart rate monitoring.
The conference was especially timely as the U.S. House of Representative’s Education and Labor Committee on July 27 advanced a legislative proposal to require OSHA to issue a national heat standard far earlier than OSHA has said is possible. The legislation, H.R.2193 (Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act of 2021) ignores the significant progress that the industry has taken to address work-related heat exposure, not to mention the recent actions that OSHA has taken with its National Emphasis Program.
The accelerated timeline as proposed in H.R.2193 to finalize a complex and prescriptive standard also jeopardizes the effectiveness and opportunity for stakeholder involvement. The Construction Industry Safety Coalition, of which AGC is a leader, shared these concerns and more with lawmakers. AGC will continue to advocate for sensible workplace safety regulations. The legislation is not expected to become law, but rather pressure OSHA to rush establishing a national heat standard.