PHOENIX — Federal officials say they could wind up assuming control of workplace safety in Arizona’s residential construction industry because a 2012 state law doesn’t do enough to protect workers.
In a letter sent Thursday to the Industrial Commission of Arizona, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration focuses on a provision of the law requiring protection for workers facing potential falls of at least 15 feet. OSHA standards call for harnesses, nets or guardrails for those facing potential falls of at least 6 feet.
“Unless satisfactorily resolved, these proceedings may involve OSHA’s resumption of federal coverage of construction work,” David Michaels, assistant secretary for OSHA, said in the letter.
Workplace safety in the state is enforced by an independent body, the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health, which is overseen by the Industrial Commission of Arizona. OSHA supports ADOSH with an annual grant for enforcement, training and outreach. In 2014, the grant was $2.3 million, with an additional $749,500 for consultation.
The state has until April 18 to respond to the letter.
Telephone messages seeking comment from ADOSH and the Industrial Commission of Arizona weren’t returned, but late Thursday a representative of a Phoenix public relations firm emailed a statement on behalf of the commission.
“Arizona’s state occupational safety and health program is, and has always been, at least as effective as the federal program,” the statement read. “ADOSH is prepared to defend that program and will respond as appropriate to the show cause letter.”
The 2012 law stemmed from legislation introduced by Sen. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, who said at the time it was a response to new OSHA standards he said would be costly for homebuilders and wouldn’t significantly increase safety.
A bill before the Legislature this year attempts to address OSHA’s concerns by requiring protection for residential construction workers who face potential falls of at least 6 feet. But it wouldn’t apply to those on securely braced joists, rafters and trusses 2 feet or less apart and more than 6 feet from an unprotected edge and if the potential fall is less than 15 feet.
The OSHA letter said the proposed change is inadequate because workers would still face falls of 15 feet.
The provision is included in a strike-everything amendment to SB 1307 authored by Sen. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford. An assistant said Griffin wouldn’t be able to discuss the bill Thursday.
Zachary Barnett, area director for OSHA’s Phoenix office, said the letter follows almost two years of talks with state officials and stakeholders.
“Our concern is that we want to ensure that workers in the residential construction industry in Arizona are protected to a federal standard, protected adequately,” he said.
- Affordable small home makeovers for Mother's Day
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon
- What you need to know about Alzheimer's disease in Arizona
- Spring clean your windows like a pro with these 8 tips
- 7 films that should have won best-picture Oscars
- New plumbing technology saves money and improves your home
- Survey shows Arizona CFOs optimistic about 2016
- How chronic pain can affect your love life