Feds reject Arizona’s construction worker safety plan

Mar 5, 2015, 6:44 AM | Updated: 6:45 am
...

PHOENIX — Federal officials have rejected an Arizona construction worker safety plan, saying it doesn’t go far enough to protect employees.

Residential construction sites must now follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety standards when it comes to fall protection. The state can create new requirements of its own, but one federal official said that’s not likely to happen.

One construction industry representative called the federal regulations unnecessary, and he said following those guidelines could cause more harm than good.

“We believe the employment of federal standards is not safe,” said Spencer Kamps, vice president of legislative affairs for the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona.

In 2012, legislators crafted fall guidelines for the state residential construction industry in response to the OSHA standards. They argued that the standards were too costly for homebuilders and wouldn’t significantly increase safety.

On Feb. 6, OSHA rejected the statute. Among other provisions, workers must now wear a safety harness when working above 6 feet instead of the previous 15-foot requirement under the statute.

OSHA will monitor construction sites to make sure they follow federal standards, said Zachary Barnett, the director at OSHA’s Phoenix office.

“It baffles me. Why would an industry not want to provide the best protection for workers? I don’t know,” Barnett said.

But Kamps said one reason he thinks the federal regulations are more dangerous is because residential construction sites use wood, which doesn’t make a strong anchor point for workers to tie off their harnesses.

Kamps, who lobbied for the legislation outlining the state’s plan, said the Arizona’s guidelines were effective.

“The safety record proves it,” he said. “We’ve had these plans since the ’90s.”

Thirteen people died on construction sites in 2013, with five of those attributed to falls, slips or trips, according to Industrial Commission of Arizona records.

Joshua Welp, the safety director for Kitchell Contractors, said he’s glad OSHA is enforcing the federal standards. He said it does cost more to follow the 6-foot rule, but some companies skimp on safety.

“They are trying to build as cheap as they can per square foot,” Welp said. “Some companies say they are about safety and don’t mean it.”

But Welp said serious injuries or fatalities would cost much more money than equipment and training for workers.

Kamps agreed that safety should be a priority.

“We are always looking for opportunities to reduce money and time, but not in this issue,” Kamps said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Pixabay Photo)...
KTAR.com

Suspect charged in carjacking, shooting at Target parking lot in Peoria

A suspect was charged Friday in the carjacking and shooting at a Target parking lot in Peoria, authorities said.
18 hours ago
FBI agents in Chattanooga, Tennessee, plan out Operation Cross Country investigative activities....
KTAR.com

Phoenix FBI agents find 17 human trafficking victims as part of Operation Cross Country

Phoenix-based FBI agents located 17 adult victims of human trafficking last week as part of a nationwide enforcement campaign, authorities said.
18 hours ago
FILE - A boat cruises along Lake Powell near Page, Ariz., on July 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, ...
Associated Press

2 killed, 5 injured when plane crashes into Lake Powell near Arizona-Utah border

Two people were killed and five others injured after a small plane crashed into Lake Powell near the Arizona-Utah border, authorities said.
18 hours ago
Virginia Walker, 64, was last seen in Phoenix on Friday. (Phoenix Police Department Photo)...
KTAR.com

Silver Alert canceled for 64-year-old woman last seen in Phoenix

Authorities said a Silver Alert for a woman who went missing in Phoenix late last week has been canceled after she was found safe Monday.
18 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Fire Department)...
Taylor Kinnerup

Phoenix Fire Department response times increasing due to lack of resources, population growth

Phoenix Fire Department leaders are sounding the alarm over a lack of resources, which is leading to an 80% increase in call response times as the Valley’s population continues to boom.
18 hours ago
Oscar-winning actor Troy Kotsur receives the key to his hometown from Mesa Mayor John Giles on Thur...
Kevin Stone

Actor Troy Kotsur’s vehicle, with Oscar inside, stolen and recovered in Mesa

Groundbreaking actor Troy Kotsur's vehicle, with his Oscar inside, was stolen and recovered in his hometown of Mesa, authorities said.
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Feds reject Arizona’s construction worker safety plan