NARI ON THE HILL: APRIL 2016
OSHA’s Silica Rule
The long anticipated OSHA rule on Silica was released at the end of March. There were a few minor changes that were made to the original proposal but for the most part the rule remained the same.
The new rule lowers the Permissible Exposure Level (PEL) from 250 to 50 for the construction industry. This exposure level is averaged over an eight hour day. While remodelers will be impacted by the rule, it will not be as bad when compared to some others in the construction industry. For instance, a remodeler may spend 45 minutes sanding a countertop during the day. On another day, a remodeler may spend two hours installing dry wall. Given the limited time performing these tasks, over the course of an eight hour day it is unlikely that the PEL will exceed 50. Contrast that exposure with a business that is mixing concrete or paving a road or even a stone mason. Those companies are going to be far more impacted by this new rule and in fact, there may be some entities that do not survive. What that will do to remodelers is drive up the price of some materials and services but the long term impact still remains to be seen. The final rule goes into effect for the construction industry on June 23, 2017.
In the meantime, there are several things that remodelers can do to prepare and be ready to comply with this rule. The rule does provide a “Safe Harbor” for the construction industry in Table 1. According to OSHA, Table 1 “identifies 18 common construction tasks that generate high exposures to respirable crystalline silica and for each task, specifies engineering controls, work practices, and respiratory protection that effectively protect workers. Employers who fully and properly implement the engineering controls, work practices, and respiratory protection specified for a task on Table 1 are not required to measure respirable crystalline silica exposures to verify that levels are at or below the PEL for workers engaged in the Table 1 task.”
In addition, NARI is in the process of setting up a webinar with an OSHA expert who will be able to explain this rule in greater detail. Be on the lookout for information about this presentation.
Finally, NARI will continue to work with our partners on the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC), as well as with our allies in Congress to ensure that implementation of this rule does not cause undue economic hardship on the small businesses in our nation’s construction industry.
Comprehensive Energy Legislation
On Wednesday, the Senate passed comprehensive energy legislation, S. 2012, for the first time in 15 years. The bill passed on an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 85-12. NARI has been actively involved in several coalitions to support this legislation. In particular, the Association has supported the energy efficiency provisions of the bill as well as the SAVE Act that was adopted as an amendment on Tuesday.
According to the Institute for Market Transformation, the SAVE Act “is legislation to improve the accuracy of mortgage underwriting used by federal mortgage agencies by including a home's expected energy cost savings when determining the value and affordability of energy efficient homes. Utility bills are usually larger than either real estate taxes or homeowners insurance, but they are currently ignored in mortgage underwriting. The SAVE Act would help revitalize the hardest hit sectors of the economy by providing lower rate mortgage financing for cost effective energy improvements; giving homebuilders and homeowners the option to recover the cost of efficiency investments; and enabling better federal mortgage underwriting while lowering utility bills for American households.” To avoid a fiscal score, the SAVE Act’s scope was narrowed to those mortgages under the Federal Housing Administration.
Last year the House passed its own comprehensive energy bill, H.R. 8, so the two chambers are now able to go to conference to work out a final agreement. NARI has worked on these energy bills for several years and is pleased to see that progress is being made in the Congress.
2017 NARI Goes to Washington Fly-In