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.
Scissor lifts are on most typical construction job sites and they’re an often overlooked hazard. Too often, liberties are taken with the lifts that create unsafe conditions, which can cause injuries and deaths. OSHA recently released the results of their investigation of 10 fatalities and 20 injuries involving scissor lifts and released their findings in what the organization refers to as a “Hazard Alert.”
If you’re into heights, then China may be the place you need to be. The country recently unveiled the world’s highest and longest glass bridge and, as scary as many tourists may find that, it was way more dangerous while it was under construction. New footage of another construction site in the Laowang Monutains is giving that bridge a run for it’s money.
Since Construction Junkie was conceived in 2015, we’ve seen a lot of construction equipment flip for some really stupid reasons. Like this crane, this other crane, and this third crane dropping a bulldozer. Those are just some of the ones caught on video and they should be enough to convince you not to go out of your way to do dangerous things with a crane.
A portion of the Skagit River Bridge, located in Mount Vernon, Washington catastrophically collapsed into the water below after a semi hauling an oversized load clipped a cross beam in 2013. Luckily and amazingly, no one was killed by the incident, but 3 people were taken to the hospital for minor injuries as several cars fell into the river. It took over 3 years to determine a cause and the report states that there were several causes. First, below is security camera footage of the collapse, uploaded to Youtube by newschannel500, in which you can see just how quickly the collapse happened.
Cranes are a staple of many construction sites throughout the world, but they’re susceptible to damage caused by sudden bursts of high wind. Winds were blamed for the collapse of the New York City crane collapse that killed one man and injured 3 others in 2016 and again for the devastating crane collapse in Mecca, which killed over 100.
Much like the stories above, a crane collapsed last week in Dubai, UAE, after sudden heavy winds burst through town.
Tragedy struck a Florida construction company last week after 3 construction workers passed away while working underground below a newly paved road. Another volunteer firefighter is in critical condition, and possibly in a coma according to WSVN Miami, after entering the manhole trying to save the victims.
No matter how fun demolitions and demolition videos might be, there’s an inherent danger to performing them that cannot be overlooked. Just last year, a different parking garage collapsed during a demolition in Houston, Texas, which landed on one of the excavators performing the work. Thankfully, no one was injured in that collapse, but it could have been much worse.
The following is a guest post written by David B. Lever.
When construction sites are safer, then productivity increases as well as profits. More construction safety means less time lost due to accidents, lower insurance premiums, and less money spent repairing damaged equipment.
Jobsite pressures, such as time crunches and monetary issues can quickly tempt otherwise good people into making some pretty poor decisions. There are also others who use their construction business as a front for other illegal activities. Many people were arrested for a variety of reasons in 2016 and the list below should serve as both a reminder and a warning for those considering making bad decisions.