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Published: September, 2011; Vol 8, Num 4
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Agency’s Construction Advisors

ACCSH Lends Perspective to OSHA Decision-Making

By Scott Schneider

Every federal agency can benefit from direct input from the people most affected by its policies, and OSHA is no exception.

By law, OSHA has several advisory committees including one on construction, the Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH). In recent years, the Committee has spearheaded OSHA’s effort to reduce trench fatalities, pushed OSHA to issue guidance for silica protection in construction, pressed the agency to update its sanitation requirements for women and assisted in the development of the nail gun guidance document that came out in August.

As the law requires, the ACCSH has five labor members, five members from industry and five others from state OSHA programs, agencies like NIOSH or “public representatives.” With turnover on the Committee, OSHA’s current leadership is putting together a new group with the skills, experience and background to provide quality advice on its agenda to increase enforcement, update standards and create additional guidance to enhance construction safety and health. In late July, the agency significantly strengthened the Committee with several new workplace safety and health proponents.

LIUNA has had a representative on this committee for several years and is currently represented by Walter Jones, Assistant Director of Occupational Safety and Health for the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America.

The ACCSH is merely advisory but has one designated duty: any proposed OSHA regulation that will affect construction must be reviewed by the ACCSH before it is published. This year, OSHA has reorganized its workgroups to better focus on its regulatory agenda.

The ACCSH meets two or three times a year. Meetings are open to the general public. The work groups meet the day before the full committee and eventually make recommendations for ACCSH debate and voting.

As currently constituted, the ACCSH has six workgroups:

  • Backing Operations
  • Health Hazards/Green Jobs
  • Diversity/Women in Construction/Multi-Lingual Workplaces
  • Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (I2P2)
  • Prevention through Design/Green
  • Reinforced Concrete in Construction

At the recent ACCSH meeting, each workgroup met, received presentations from OSHA and made some recommendations to the full committee. Many workgroups are preparing for expected rulemaking activity this fall. According to the Regulatory Agenda, OSHA plans new regulations on silica, I2P2, backing operations (in work zones) and reinforced concrete.

A full list of current members and other information on the Committee are available at the OSHA website.

[Scott Schneider, the LHSFNA’s Director of Occupational Safety and Health, served on the ACCSH for several years.]