AGC Recommends U.S. DOT Regulatory Reforms

Source: AGC Highway Facts Bulletin

On July 24, AGC submitted more than 50 pages worth of regulatory reform recommendations to the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) in response to the department’s request for comment. In this comprehensive document, AGC put forth recommendations for improving the highway work zone safety, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandate on electronic logging devices, the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program, and the federal environmental review and permitting processes, among other things. AGC also recommended that U.S. DOT eliminate its local hire pilot program and rescind the outstanding proposed rule for such a program.

This AGC submission comes on the heels of U.S. DOT putting forth its 2017 regulatory plan last week. As part of the semi-annual Unified Regulatory and Deregulatory Agenda, U.S. DOT revealed that it has not yet determined the next action on the Obama administration’s proposed regulation on local hiring requirements. In response, AGC was once again successful in pushing Congress to include a provision in annual spending legislation that—when signed into law—would restrict the use of local hire requirements on highway and transit projects that have federal funding.

Additionally, the U.S. DOT terminated a highway work zone safety rulemaking—mandated by statute under MAP-21—that would have ensured that positive protection measures and temporary longitudinal traffic barriers would be used in work zones in certain situations. The department, however, did indicate its intent to follow through on a rulemaking to establish a pilot program authorizing five states to conduct environmental reviews and make approvals for projects under state environmental laws and regulations, rather than through the National Environmental Policy Act.

The Regulatory Road Ahead

Source: AGC of America

To help construction contractors better understand the regulatory state of play during the presidential transition period, AGC produced “The Regulatory Road Ahead.”  A number of regulations — from the overtime rule to paid sick leave — go into effect before Inauguration Day. Some of them could be repealed in 2017. And, new regulations may yet come. The reality is that AGC contractors must remember to comply with the law and not rely on campaign promises. This document will help AGC members better understand the lay of the regulatory land from now to January 20 and beyond.

AGC Pushes Back on New OSHA Recordkeeping Requirements

AGC intensified its effort to dissuade the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) from interpreting its new recordkeeping regulations to restrict drug testing or safety incentive programs by pressing for a formal audience with the top OSHA official.

At the heart of the controversy surrounding the new regulations are two provisions that have many practical and legal problems. At the moment, AGC of America is focusing on two such problems.  Firstly, OSHA has threatened to interpret these provisions to prohibit mandatory post-incident drug testing.  Secondly, the agency has similarly threatened to construe them to restrict safety incentive programs, specifically any programs that link their rewards to the number of incidents reported to the employer.

Read the full story here.

Higher Fines for Federal Safety, Environmental Law Violations Starting this Summer

OSHA, EPA and FWS Finalize New Maximum Civil Penalties
The financial penalties that federal agencies may impose on the regulated community as restitution (or a deterrent) for any violation of statutes/regulations or permit requirements are about to go way up, some by as much as 150 percent. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) – to name a few – all have finalized penalty increases that take effect this summer.  Most notable, OSHA’s maximum penalties have increased by approximately 80 percent across the board.  Similarly, EPA published more than 65 penalty increases across the various environmental statutes that it administers.

The impending higher fines stem from recent legislation requiring federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties in two significant ways.  First, the agencies must make initial “catch up” adjustments with the higher penalty levels to take effect no later than Aug. 1, 2016 – as previously reported by AGC (click here and here).  Second, looking ahead, federal agencies must make adjustments for inflation every year — a change from the prior frequency of once every 4 years. OSHA and EPA will apply the new higher fines to all civil penalties assessed on or after Aug. 1, 2016, for violations that occurred after Nov. 2, 2015 (when the 2015 Adjustment Act was enacted).

Here’s the full story.

Here’s the OSHA news release.