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Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) today sent a letter to Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), requesting a delay in any proceedings to reject Arizona’s fall protection standards for residential construction sites or involve federal control of Arizona construction while there is ongoing action in the Arizona legislature to address OSHA’s concerns. Arizona has a long history of making construction safety a priority, having required written fall protection plans at all construction sites since 1995 – fifteen years before OSHA issued federal fall protection standards – and has continuously maintained a top-tier national ranking for worker safety in the construction industry.

 

The text of the letter is below.

 

  

April 1, 2014

 

The Honorable David Michaels, PhD, MPH

Assistant Secretary

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

United States Department of Labor

Washington, DC 20210

 

Dear Dr. Michaels:

We are writing in response to the March 19 letter from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to Ms. Laura McGrory regarding Arizona’s potential non-compliance with OSHA’s residential fall protection standards.  

We, of course, take protecting Arizona workers very seriously.  We believe that Arizona has a long history of making this issue a priority, having required written fall protection plans at all construction sites since 1995—fifteen years before OSHA issued federal fall protection standards.  In addition, according to the Arizona Department of Occupational Safety and Health, Arizona has continuously maintained a top-tier national ranking for worker safety in the construction sector.  We are concerned that OSHA does not appear to consider the long-standing safety record and enforcement efforts of Arizona as it considers the State’s fall protection plan.  We are also concerned about OSHA’s ability to identify how Arizona can be “as least as effective as” OSHA standards in lieu of complying with specific federal mandated standards.     

It is our understanding that the Arizona legislature is considering legislation that would alter and revise the current state statute in accordance with concerns raised by OSHA to better comply with OSHA fall protection standards.  Given these actions by the Arizona legislature, we ask that you delay any proceedings to reject Arizona’s fall protection standard or proceedings that may involve federal control of Arizona construction at least until a final bill has passed the Arizona legislature and there has been adequate time to examine if these changes will allow the Arizona plan to be “as least as effective as” the federal standard.   

We also ask that you answer the following questions regarding OSHA’s enforcement of fall protection standards nationally by Friday, April 4, 2014:

1.         Are there States that do not meet OSHA’s fall protection standard of six feet? Are there States that, for other reasons, are not in compliance with OSHA’s fall protection standards? If so, please identify them and indicate whether they have been granted approval of their fall protection plans by OSHA?

2.         Are there States that do not meet the specific OSHA fall-protection standards but have been able to demonstrate that their fall protections standards are “as least effective as” federal OSHA standards?  If so, please identify them and describe how these States fall protection plans are “as least effective as” the federal standard.

Ensuring worker safety in the construction industry has been and continues to be a priority for Arizona—long before OSHA found it to be a priority and mandated federal standards.  We ask that you work with the State of Arizona as it seeks to better comply with the OSHA fall protection standards through legislation.  Should you have any questions regarding this letter or the requested information, please contact David Cole with Senator McCain at (202) 224-XXXX or Sarah Towles with Senator Flake at (202) 224-XXXX.

  

Sincerely,

  

John McCain                                                                          

United States Senator                                                             

 

Jeff Flake

United States Senator

 

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