The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Wednesday that it would delay implementation of the anti-retaliation provisions of its new electronic recordkeeping rule until Dec. 1, 2016.
The agency said that it is giving a Texas court extra time to consider a legal challenge against the rule, an action brought by the Associated Builders and Contractors.
Construction industry groups have come out against the regulation as it prevents post-accident drug testing unless drugs are suspected to have contributed to the event.
The rationale behind the provisions is that drug testing constitutes an invasion of privacy and could keep employees from reporting recordable injuries or illnesses. As with all OSHA regulations, employers who continue to require routine, post-accident drug and alcohol testing could face penalties.
This is the second time the agency has postponed enforcement. OSHA first scheduled the rule to take effect on Aug. 10, 2016, but then changed the date to Nov. 1 in order to allow time for related outreach and training among construction companies.
Earlier this year, Greg Sizemore, the ABC's vice president of health, safety, environment and workforce development, said it was "inconceivable" that OSHA would take away an employer's right to perform routine post-accident testing because it can be critical in preventing future incidents and can help discover their causes.
Industry organizations have also hit back against the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, implemented through the Department of Labor. The new regulation, which goes into effect on Oct. 25, phases in employer requirements to report labor law violations, adjudicated or not, in the run-up to bidding on federal contracts. Both the Associated General Contractors of America and the ABC have said the rule violates contractors' due-process rights and will cost them too much to comply.
According to an ABC survey of its members, the so-called "blacklisting" rule would create an "extreme" compliance burden for nine in 10 respondents, while more than half said it would keep them from bidding on federal work. The association added that ABC members executed nearly 60% of all $25 million-plus federal construction contracts from 2009 to 2015, and that if fewer contractors bid on jobs due to the blacklisting rule, prices will go up and create an additional burden on taxpayers.
The ABC, in conjunction with its Southeast Texas chapter, filed a lawsuit earlier this month challenging the regulation.