- Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has proposed a new city safety measure that would require all contractors applying for city jobs to report Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations on permit applications, according to the Boston Business Journal.
- The new rule, which must be approved by the Boston City Council, would also give city officials the right to deny or revoke a contractor's building permit based on its safety history.
- Walsh submitted the new safety rules for approval in the wake of a deadly construction accident last month in which two workers were killed after a water line ruptured and flooded the trench they were working in. Atlantic Drain Service Co., the contractor performing the work, allegedly has several previous OSHA violations and fines.
There is currently no reporting mechanism that would alert city building officials to the fact that a company has had any issues with OSHA, outstanding or resolved. If the new rule gets the green light from the council, it will go into effect immediately.
The new rule still relies on companies to be truthful about any safety history with OSHA, and there are no details about how the city would verify the information provided on building permit applications. OSHA violations and proposed fines are public record and available on the agency's website. There is also no information about what criteria city officials would use to determine if a denial, revocation or suspension of a building permit is necessary.
If enacted, this potential new measure is sure to raise concerns with industry groups. It is reminiscent of the requirement that contractors start reporting a one-year history of labor law violations before being able to submit a bid for a federal contract under the new Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order.
Also referred to as the "blacklisting" rule, it would permit federal contracting officers to disqualify contractors from bidding on work based on alleged violations rather than on those that have been legally resolved. Despite the pushback from construction industry groups, trade unions and other worker organizations have come out in support of the rule. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka praised the Obama administration and said the new regulation would make the federal contracting system "fair and accountable."
The FPSW rule, originally scheduled to into effect in October, was blocked at the last minute by a Texas judge, who issued a preliminary injunction blocking it.