Dan Hilton 2014-12-30 23:08:34
Changes coming in Colorado and beyond Colorado to go WaterSense® only in 2016 This summer, the Colorado legislature joined states such as California, Georgia and Texas in passing legislation requiring sellers of plumbing products to sell only Watersense-labeled products. The law will begin enforcement on September 1, 2016. Sponsored by Fort Collins Democrat Rep. Randy Fischer, the new law will prohibit the sale of plumbing fixtures (faucets, shower heads, toilets and urinals) that don’t meet federal WaterSense standards. WaterSense certification means the plumbing fixture uses at least 20 percent less water without sacrificing performance compared to standard models. For toilets, that means using 1.28 gallons of water or less per flush, as opposed to the federally mandated maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush. Launched in 2006, WaterSense is a partnership program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which seeks to protect the future Of our nation’s water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products and services and in new homes. WaterSense brings together a variety of stakeholders, including the American Supply Association, to: • Promote the value of water efficiency. • Provide consumers with easy ways to save water, as both a label for products and an information resource to help people use water more efficiently. • Encourage innovation in manufacturing. • Decrease water use and reduce strain on water resources and infrastructure. Since its beginnings, ASA and its members have been a valued partner of the WaterSense program and have sought passage of a national standard to prevent the ongoing patchwork of 50 different water conservation standards. OSHA announces final rule on changes to recordkeeping requirements The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that they have finalized and updated employer requirements related to injuries in the workplace. At present, the law requires notifying OSHA if three or more employees are hospitalized within 24 hours. Beginning next year, that changes to just a single employee being hospitalized and the call must be made within eight hours. This leads to a number of questions. For example, what happens if one employee comes into work with fl u-like symptoms or comes down with food poisoning over lunch, passes out and ends up in the hospital? Soon (within 8 hours) OSHA may begin wondering if your worksite is improperly ventilated and your employees are all at risk of inhaling deadly chemicals. Are you ready for an OSHA inspection? Rest assured, OSHA has said that not every violation will result in an inspection, but you will now be on their radar. When three employees are sent to the hospital, that’s likely a worksite issue, but if only one person goes to the hospital (for a reason that could be completely unrelated to work), your business will soon have a record of an employee hospitalization. In addition to announcing this new change, Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor-for occupational safety and health, announced that these reports will be made available to the public, online. As Dr. Michaels states, “Since no employer wants their workplace to be known as an unsafe place, we believe that the possibility of public reporting of serious injuries will encourage—or, in the behavioral economics term ‘nudge’ employers to take steps to prevent injuries so they are not seen as unsafe places to work. After all, if you had a choice of applying for a job at a workplace where a worker had recently lost a hand, versus one where no amputations had occurred—which would you choose?” It should be noted that OSHA had long been trying to get companies’ OSHA 300 forms also available online. The business community, including ASA, has long opposed this unnecessary scrutiny, which may lead to inaccurate conclusions. Employer-based law firm Jackson Lewis reports that the new rule expands the list of severe injuries that all OSHA-covered industries, regardless of size or partial exemption status, must report to OSHA. The current regulations require that when there is a fatality or three or more hospitalizations, the employer must inform OSHA within eight hours of the occurrence. Under the new rule, a fatality (within 30 days of the work-related incident) must be reported within eight hours of the death. However, employers now will have a 24-hour window in which to report to OSHA all work-related inpatient hospitalizations that require care and treatment of a single employee; all amputations; and all losses of an eye that occur within 24 hours of the incident. As Secretary Michaels said in his press call, “Hospitalizations and amputations are sentinel events, indicating that serious hazards are likely to be present at a workplace, and an intervention is warranted to protect other workers at the establishment. Too often, we learn of a worker being killed or seriously injured, and when we inspect, we learn that one or more workers have already suffered serious injuries at that establishment.” Finally, our observations are that this may be one more attempt by OSHA to crack down on companies that maintain what OSHA considers incentive-based programs related to injuries. OSHA considers these to be a violation of whistleblower protections and a threat to proper injury reporting. They believe that if a lone worker becomes the one who prevents the company from planning a barbecue or ice-cream social to celebrate 60-90-180 days free of injury, then that worker may think twice before reporting an injury, and more importantly the cause of the injury, which could prevent future injuries. Who wants to be that employee that tarnishes the “365 days worry-free” sign at the job site? BY Dan Hilton Director of Government A airs American Supply Association, Washington, D.C.
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