In a victory for HBA members, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) this week abandoned its plan to reshape the rules under which compliance officers can enter work sites that take advantage of the federally funded Onsite Consultation Program.

NAHB and other industry groups urged OSHA to scrap the rule when it was first proposed three years ago, saying the changes that OSHA wanted to make would effectively remove incentives to participate in the voluntary safety program that offers free and confidential safety advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country. Since then, several state consultation programs have lodged their own complaints about the proposed rule, fearing it would hurt small businesses who were interested in participating in the consultation program and decrease the number of employers developing comprehensive safety and health management programs. However, union groups had strongly supported the measure as a means of addressing any hazards that might emerge on these sites, and OSHA appeared close to issuing a final rule as early as September of 2011.

Last week OSHA reversed course with its latest decision, announcing that it is dropping the proposal altogether and citing comments received from various stakeholders. The bottom line for HBA members is that your national association has helped preserve the use of OSHA’s free on-site consultation program without the threat of additional OSHA enforcement.