Crystalline silica is found in many construction materials, including concrete, stone, and brick masonry. The inhalation of silica dust is thought to contribute to the formation of many health hazards, including lung cancer, silicosis, COPD, and kidney disease. Estimates have shown that silica exposure kills 600 American workers and results in 900 new cases of silicosis each year, OSHA has been working on tightening its rules regarding the exposure to this type of dust for several years and has finally issued a new “final rule,” it’s first update on the rule since 1971.
The updated rule, which will go into effect for the construction industry on June 23, 2017, specifies the following:
Exposure limits reduced
Workers are now limited to being exposed to only 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an 8 hour shift. This is 5 times less than the previous allowable limit of 250 micrograms. 1 microgram is equivalent to one millionth of a gram.
Requirement of engineering controls and/or PPE
Water and ventilation practices to limit worker exposure are required when exposures exceed the allowable limit. When the engineering practices are not enough to keep dust levels under the limit, the employer is then required to provide respiratory protection for workers. The employer is also responsible for training employees and providing medical exams for highly exposed workers
Table of specified controls
Clearly, not many people understand what 50 micrograms of dust looks like, nor should they. Because of that, OSHA has included a table of specified controls in order to clear up uncertainties for construction employers. For example, when workers are using a stationary masonry saw, they should be using a saw that is equipped with a water delivery system that continuously feeds water to the blade. In doing so, they are not required to wear respiratory protection. Handheld power saws should also be used with a water delivery system, but require a respiratory protection with a factor of APF 10 when outdoors and exposed for greater than 4 hours and all the time, when indoors. Click the link above to see the rest.
Many construction organizations are unhappy with the new rule, including all of the members of the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC). According to the group, which includes the Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated General Contractors, National Association of Home Building, among many others, OSHA has “not met its burden of demonstrating that the proposal is technologically and economically feasible.“ Though the group ultimately has the desire to protect the industry’s employees, it wants to make sure new rulings don’t put an undue pressure on employers that would not allow them to live up to their end of the bargain.
“Instead of crafting a new standard that the construction industry can comply with, administration officials have instead opted to set a new standard that is well beyond the capabilities of current air filtration and dust removal technologies,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America, in a press release. “Our concern is that this new rule will do little to improve workplace health and safety, which is why we will continue our review of the new measure, consult with our members and decide on a future course of action that will best serve the health and safety of millions of construction workers across the country.”
In a document released in March of 2013, the CISC not only deemed the new rule technologically and economically infeasible, but also unnecessary. According to the Center of Disease Control, silica related deaths have dropped by 93 percent from 1968 to 2007. The organization also stated that it believes OSHA’s estimate for how much the new rule would cost the industry was very far from reality. While OSHA expects the program to cost $511 million for companies to comply, the CISC estimates total costs to be almost $5 BILLION.
No matter which side you fall on, one thing’s for sure. These two sides need to come to some sort of compromise to make this program successful.
There’s no doubt that drones are the hot technology item for the construction industry. They allow you inspect your overall site more quickly, take aerial photos for marketing and documentation, measure tonnage and volume of on-site stockpiles, and even monitor employee productivity. Now, one company has designed a drone that can safely inspect structures for damage and detect cracks as small as .0039 inches wide (.1mm), when fitted with an HD camera.
The number one goal on every construction site should be that all workers make it home safe at the end of the day. The sad reality is that hundreds of construction workers are killed on the job site every year. Last year, contractors were working on an indoor activity center for a high school in Argyle, Texas, when the 30 foot tall structure quickly collapsed, killing one man in the process.
2016 has been a big year for OSHA, as the organization has raised the cost of fines for safety violations for the first time since 1990. Made, effective in August, fines were raised 78%, making the cost of a serious violation $12,471. The construction industry is by far the most affected by OSHA regulations, as it accounted for 43.3% of all citations, 52.92% of all inspections, and 44.16% of all penalties assessed from October 2015 to September 2016. Of all specific types of contractors, roofing contractors account for the largest quantity of citations (6,924), following by framing contractors (3,810), and masonry contractors (2,501).
One thing’s for sure about Milwaukee Tool, they aren’t satisfied with putting the same tools out year after year. They’re constantly improving age old classics and leading in the innovation of new tool solutions. Their latest announcement is a variation on their extremely popular line of M18 tools.
The weight of dirt is serious business and the force it provides should not be underestimated. Depending on the moisture content, soil can weigh around 2,000 pounds per cubic yard. Many construction workers die each year from trench collapses due to improper shoring and benching techniques, but weight and force calculations are also extremely important in the design and construction of retaining walls.
We have a lot of safety rules in construction and it’s practically impossible to monitor your job site for compliance of every single rule. To complicate matters, many rules are based upon exposure limits, especially when airborne particles are involved. OSHA recently reduced the allowable exposure limit of silica dust, which is found in concrete, stone, and brick, before additional PPE or engineering controls are required. This rule change has caused a lot of grief among construction industry groups, who called the rule technologically infeasible, because what contractor is really set up to measure when 50 micrograms of silica dust per cubic meter of air is actually reached?
In March 2013, Flintlock Construction was building a hotel at a Manhattan construction site known as the 325 Project. OSHA inspectors visited the site and delivered three separate scaffolding violations that added up to a total of $249,920 in OSHA fines. Flintlock Construction immediately filed an appeal and that appeal was heard in July 2015.
There are some things in life that are promised… such as taxes, death, and buying something used that you will later wish you hadn’t. Whether it is a Craigslist flat screen TV or a used car, it is always smart to be slightly wary about used goods.
Hoisting equipment and construction are no different.
Though the venues of the Rio Olympics may look great on camera, the behind the scenes issues that occurred left Olympic officials stunned. It seemed that Rio was behind schedule from the start, which may have fueled some of the job site conditions that resulted in 11 construction workers’ deaths over the course of the project. Even back in 2014, John D. Coates, the Vice President of the Olympic Committee told reporters that Brazil was not ready for the Olympics “in many, many ways” and also called their preparation worse than Athens, Greece in 2004. Brazil was also the host of the 2014 World Cup and 8 construction workers were killed on the job, including 2 that were killed by a collapsed crane at San Paulo Stadium. Zero deaths were reported during the building process for the 2012 London Olympics.
OK look, there are certainly a lot of pressures to get buildings completed on time, but I’d never thought I’d hear of construction workers being GIVEN crystal meth in order to finish a building on time. But, that’s what multiple sources are telling Radio Free Asia (RFA) is happening right now in North Korea. According to RFA, the project managers working on a “showcase” construction project in Pyongyang, which includes many different buildings, are under extreme pressures to finish on time.