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OSHA Releases Silica Standard FAQ for Construction

Posted by on Aug 16, 2018 in News

OSHA Releases Silica Standard FAQ for Construction Filed in Labor, Safety and Health by NAHB Now on August 14, 2018 • 0 Comments The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Monday released a set of 53 frequently asked questions – and their answers – to provide guidance to employers and employees on its respirable crystalline silica standard for construction. Through the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, NAHB was an important contributor to the formulation of this FAQ. The development stemmed from litigation filed against OSHA by numerous construction industry trade associations challenging the legality of the new silica rule. NAHB will continue to look for ways to work with OSHA to improve the workability of this significant rule. The FAQ is extensive and organized by topic. A short introductory paragraph is included for each group of questions; the answers appear in an expanded box when each question is clicked. Importantly, the FAQ clarifies that many common construction tasks are likely to be outside the scope of the standard. This includes mixing small amounts of mortar; mixing small amounts of concrete; mixing bagged, silica-free drywall compound; mixing bagged exterior insulation finishing system base and finish coat; and removing concrete formwork. In addition, tasks in which employees are working with silica products that are handled while wet are likely to generate exposures outside of the scope of the standard, including finishing and hand wiping block walls to remove excess wet mortar, pouring concrete, and grouting floor and wall tiles. The FAQ also states that many silica-generating tasks performed for 15 minutes or less a day will fall outside the scope of the standard. Other clarifications in the FAQ highlighted by NAHB staff include: Table 1. The requirement that employers “[o]perate and maintain” tools “in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions to minimize dust emissions,” applies only to manufacturer instructions that are related to dust control.  Other information in these instructions, including recommended respiratory protection, do not have to be followed for purposes of the standard. OSHA also has agreed to issue a Request for Information on Table 1 to revise the table to improve its utility. Written Exposure Control Plan. The standard does not require employers to develop a new written plan for each job or worksite. It requires only that employers have a written exposure control plan applicable to each worksite. Employers may develop a single, comprehensive, written exposure-control plan that covers all required aspects of the plan for all work activities at all worksites. Also, the standard does not preclude employees from entering work areas where silica-generating tasks are occurring when it is necessary for them to do so. Rather, the rule calls only for minimizing the number of employees in the relevant work areas. All home builders should carefully review the new FAQ at https://www.osha.gov/dsg/topics/silicacrystalline/construction_info_silica.html. For additional information, contact Rob Matuga at 800-368-5242 x8507 or Felicia Watson at 800-368-5242...

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Democrats Introduce Several Tax Bills Focusing on Affordable Housing

Posted by on Aug 16, 2018 in News

Democrats Introduce Several Tax Bills Focusing on Affordable Housing Filed in Capitol Hill by NAHB Now on August 16, 2018 • 1 Comment In the final days prior to the start of the traditional August congressional recess, Democrats in the House and Senate have put the spotlight on the affordable rental housing crisis by introducing a number of new bills. Here is a brief summary of the legislation: On July 19, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) introduced the Rent Relief Tax Act (S. 3250), which would create a new, refundable tax credit for renters who pay more than 30% of their gross income on rent and utilities.  The bill has four Democratic cosponsors, none of whom sit on the Senate Finance Committee. On July 26, the Assistant Democratic Leader in the House, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, introduced the Restoring Tax Credits for Affordable Housing Act (H.R. 6542).  This bill would increase state Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) allocations and modify the discount rate formula used to calculate the 9% credit rate.  The goal of this bill is restore the equity lost as a result of the lower corporate tax rate.  H.R. 6542 has 23 Democratic cosponsors, but none of them are on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.  Rep. Clyburn also cosponsored H.R. 1661, the Curbelo-Neal bill to strengthen the LIHTC, at the same time he introduced this bill. On Aug. 1, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced the Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, and Equity (HOME) Act of 2018 (S. 3342), which would also create a new refundable tax credit for renters.  The bill would also seek to require communities to adopt “inclusive zoning policies,” which would be of concern to NAHB.  NAHB does not support federal pre-emption of local or state land use authority.  S. 3342 has no cosponsors. While none of these bills enjoy bipartisan support or even support of any Democrats on the tax writing committees, they show a growing focus among Democrats on affordable housing. It is notable that two of these three bills focus on creating a renters’ tax credit, an idea that has drawn criticism from the LA Times and the Tax Foundation, and by some estimates could cost $76 billion per year. Unfortunately, renters’ tax credits do not address the fundamental problem driving the affordability crisis, which is lack of inventory. Nonetheless, NAHB will seek to leverage this newfound energy on affordable housing into action on H.R. 1661, the Curbelo-Neal bill, and S. 548, the companion Senate bill sponsored by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). We anticipate that in the coming weeks, additional legislation will be introduced related to affordable rental housing. For more information, contact J.P. Delmore at 800-368-5242...

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Iowa Governor Lauds HBA Job Training Program

Posted by on Jul 11, 2018 in News

Iowa Governor Lauds HBA Job Training Program Filed in Education by NAHB Now on July 10, 2018 • 0 Comments A group of Iowa high school and college students have broken ground on a five-bedroom home in Iowa City that the state’s governor says is a model for communities across the state. “This is how we are going to keep our young people in the state of Iowa,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds at the home’s groundbreaking in a story written by the Iowa City Press-Citizen. And those young people will have skilled training that will lead to well-paying careers in the industry and build more homes for Iowans. The home building project is part of the Greater Iowa City HBA‘s summer vocational training program,, run with the cooperation of Kirkwood Community College and featured in NAHBNow when it launched almost four years ago. NAHB offers a number of resources to HBAs interested in workforce development issues or that want to launch a Student Chapter for local high school or college students interested in a career in the trades or construction management. Share updated salary data and videos for six popular trades to help make the case for pursuing these rewarding careers. For additional information, contact Greg Zick at...

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Electronic Submissions of Injury Records Due to OSHA July 1

Posted by on Jun 29, 2018 in News

Filed in Labor, Safety and Health by NAHB Now on June 28, 2018 •  Certain companies, including some home builders, are required to electronically submit information from their 2017 Form 300A to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) by July 1. OSHA has long required covered companies with more than 10 employees to keep records of workplace injuries and illness on Form 300A. The only new requirement is that some companies now have to submit this information electronically through an online portal. Although the rule applies to a variety of establishments in certain industries with historically high rates of injuries, many businesses will be deemed exempt from the rule according to OSHA’s definition of “establishment”: It defines an establishment as “a single physical location where business is conducted or where services or industrial operations are performed. For activities where employees do not work at a single physical location … such as construction … the establishment is represented by main or branch offices, terminals, stations, etc. that either supervise such activities or are the base from which personnel carry out these activities.” For home builders that do meet the requirements, the July 1 deadline is for 2017 data only. Form 300A information for 2018 will need to be submitted by March 2, 2019. For more information, contact Rob Matuga at 800-368-5242...

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EPA Continues Wave of Action on Lead Regulations

Posted by on Jun 29, 2018 in News

Filed in Codes and Regulations, Environmental, Remodelers by NAHB Now on June 29, 2018 •  On June 22, EPA released a proposal to lower the dust-lead hazard standards, which impact contractors who do lead-abatement work. EPA recommends tightening the standards from 40 and 250 micrograms per square foot to 10 and 100 micrograms per square foot on floors and window sills, respectively. The proposed rule is in response to a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court. Although advocates petitioned EPA to revise the definition of lead-based paint, EPA declined to propose any changes due to insufficient information to support a change. This means the proposed rule should not impact the Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP) that regulates remodeling activities in housing built before 1978. NAHB staff will be reviewing the proposal and submitting comments to the agency. The proposed rule is not the only recent agency action that addresses lead-based paint. Earlier this spring, EPA issued its final report on the economic impact of the RRP rule on small businesses. Also known as the 610 retrospective review, the report acknowledged that “a lead test kit meeting the rule’s positive response criterion has not come to market.” However, EPA concluded that the benefits of lead-safe work practices “continue to exceed its costs,” which NAHB Remodelers have demonstrated can be considerable. NAHB staff continues to review the report and is working with NAHB Remodelers leadership and industry allies to review next steps in responding to the agency. NAHB also is closely monitoring the Administration’s anticipated update to the interagency strategy document on reducing childhood exposure to lead. The document is expected to take a broader approach to the issue and not focus solely on lead-based paint. For more information about EPA’s lead-based paint regulations, please contact Tamra...

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