In my last blog entry, I noted that OSHA recently announced it was extending its temporary enforcement measures in residential construction for three months — until Dec. 15, 2012.

I asked our resident safety expert, Chip Macdonald, what he thought about the extension, and he was his usual quotable self. He pointed to election-year politics as a likely factor involved in the decision. Macdonald stated:

“Since 1970, workplace fatalities have dropped 65 percent and injuries and illnesses have fallen 67 percent. However, since 1970, under the President's appointment of an Assistant Secretary of Labor, OSHA has always been a political body. In 1996, under President George W. Bush, the Ergonomic Standard became the only OSHA standard to have been totally rescinded in the past 42 years. Nevertheless, political parties and their special interest groups have successfully ‘manipulated’ OSHA regulations through revised legal interpretations, cancelled compliance directives and even withdrawn enforcement funding over the decades. Regardless of his/her party affiliations, the Director of OSHA is an individual who maintains a very small circle of friends and a well-lit target on his/her career in service. There’s no point in denying it. He or she has always had an underlying political agenda tied to their appointment, often blatantly displaying either a labor or management-friendly proclivity. You're supposed to go home from the dance with the one who brought you.

“Since its original issue on June 16, 2011, STD 03-11-002 saw its original enforcement date (September 2011) rolled out to February 2012. In April of 2012, Dr. David Michaels, current director of OSHA, launched a national informational campaign ( to prevent falls in construction entitled "Plan, Provide, Train." It was intended to ‘educate’ the residential construction industry in site-specific procedures to prevent falls from heights as well as methods comply with the latest Directive. A second deadline extension was issued by OSHA for Sept. 15, 2012 in order to: (1) allow more nationwide outreach programs to become implemented; (2) issue an extended 30-day period for hazard abatement periods under certain conditions; and (3) ensure 10 percent reduction in penalties issued for non-compliance by employers who still elected to comply with the previously cancelled directive.

“Under ‘strong recommendations’ by the National Home Builder’s Association, a second extension was issued of the directive's enforcement date to Sept. 15, 2012. And now, without further explanation, OSHA has extended the grace period for an additional three months until Dec. 15, 2012, just 40 days after the federal election for president of the United States and 36 days before the president’s inauguration.

“Did I mention that OSHA was a political body?”

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