CA adopts tougher reinforcing steel and post-tensioning safety standards
- The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, an agency within California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health, also known as Cal-OSHA, has voted to change its reinforcing steel and post-tensioning safety rules to the stricter standards used by the Iron Workers International (IW), according to Retrofit Magazine.
- California is the first state OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) program to collaborate with the IW to restructure safety rules, and the IW has called on federal OSHA to update its standards as well. The IW is also working with other state-approved OSHA programs to update reinforcing steel and post-tensioning standards too.
- According to the IW, there is a direct relationship between a lack of safety rules for reinforcing steel and post-tensioning operations and safety incidents from the resulting hazards. The new California standards should go into effect in 2018 after a series of educational events for contractors and ironworkers.
According to OSHA, 26 states have adopted state OSHA plans.
OSHA authorizes and oversees all state-level plans and funds by as much as 50% of the cost. States are permitted to establish safety and health programs, but they must meet or exceed the standards of federal OSHA. This includes penalties and the citation process as well.
In August 2016, OSHA raised its maximum civil penalties by 78% after a 26-year break from increases. The Obama administration mandated the hike in order to bring the agency's fee structure in line with inflation. For example, the new maximum penalty for serious violations increased to $12,471 from $7,000, and the maximum penalty for willful and repeated violations was bumped up to $124,709 from $70,000.
While the new fee structure might seem hard line and punitive, OSHA, under the Trump administration has taken a softer approach to publicizing major safety violations and the fines that accompany them. In fact, the last of what became known as "shaming" press releases about such incidents was issued two days before President Trump's inauguration.
Edwin G. Foulke Jr., former assistant secretary of labor for OSHA under President George W. Bush, told Construction Dive in March that this approach was not effective and that the agency would do well to help employers comply instead.
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