Originally set to be enforced on June 23, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration new rule regarding silica dust exposure limits has been delayed an additional 90 days, to September 23, 2017. Many construction industry groups were upset by the new rule, as they deemed it “technologically and economically infeasible, but also unnecessary.”
Construction workers mostly come into contact with silica dust when cutting concrete, stone, and brick masonry. The inhalation of silica dust can cause many health risks, including lung cancer, silicosis, COPD, and kidney disease.
When finally put into effect, the new silica rules will mark the first time the standard has been updated since 1971. The final rule will reduce the exposure limits to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, which is 5 times less than the previous allowable limit. To limit exposure to workers, employers will be responsible for implementing stronger engineering controls and/or PPE.
OSHA announced the delay in the enforcement of the rule on April 6, in a press release. In it, the organization states that “The agency has determined that additional guidance is necessary due to the unique nature of the requirements in the construction standard. Originally scheduled to begin June 23, 2017, enforcement will now begin Sept. 23, 2017.
OSHA expects employers in the construction industry to continue to take steps either to come into compliance with the new permissible exposure limit, or to implement specific dust controls for certain operations as provided in Table 1 of the standard. Construction employers should also continue to prepare to implement the standard's other requirements, including exposure assessment, medical surveillance and employee training.”
In January of 2017, OSHA released a final rule which greatly reduced the allowable exposure to beryllium, a mineral that can cause deadly lung disease. While not as commonly encountered in the construction industry as other substances that cause terrible lung diseases, like crystalline silica and asbestos, beryllium is linked to a disease called chronic beryllium disease, which kills around 100 people each year. It’s commonly found in coal slag, which is used for sandblasting. According to the New York Times, OSHA estimates that 11,500 construction workers would be affected by OSHA’s reduced exposure limit.
As recently highlighted by several multi-story building fires, contractors should always be prepared in the event a fire starts on a job site. There have been dozens multi-story building fires in the past few years and many were started when the building was topped out. In most cases, the project was completely destroyed, leaving developers and owners to deal with years of delays from insurance claims. A massive five-alarm fire at an Oakland construction site is one of the more recent examples.
In a year that OSHA can’t seem to enforce any new rules, it appears to have found a way to remove a rule from its books. As announced last week, OSHA has removed monorail hoists from Subpart CC – Cranes and Derricks in Construction. Employers are still required to follow other OSHA regulations regarding the hoists, but this rule should help clear up some inconsistencies.
For many construction superintendents and project managers across the world, tablets are becoming one of the most important tools on the job site. They’re great for looking at plans, taking pictures, making notes, and running your favorite construction apps. Carrying a tablet does take up at least one of your hands, however, so it can be a hindrance if you need to help a co-worker lift material or climb a ladder.
High demand battery packs have allowed many construction workers ditch the cords on jobsites throughout the country, by providing more power and longer runtime. As with any battery packs, it’s important to follow safety warnings, but with a higher capacity can sometimes mean greater consequences when those warnings are not followed.
Since the beginning of the year, OSHA has had a pretty hard time enforcing any of its new rules due to delays. The silica dust exposure rule was delayed 90 to September 23, the crane certification rule is facing yet another possible delay, and now the electronic injury reporting rule is facing another delay.
Just before 11 am on Monday morning, 6/26, firefighters were called to an under-construction residential building in Queens, New York after concrete scaffolding and formwork collapsed during a pour.
Two construction workers in Sarasota, Florida were recently trapped 15 stories in the air after one of the lines on their suspended scaffolding snapped. One of the two men was able to be pulled to safety by some co-workers on site, but the second was stuck on the scaffold for an hour before the fire department could rescue him.
According to OSHA, more than 40 percent of all heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry. Many more workers also become ill from extreme heat and humidity. With summer now in full effect, it’s time to re-evaluate your personal steps for keeping safe in the heat and how your company is going to help their employees stay safe.
Every now and then a new product comes along and you ask yourself, “why didn’t I think of that?!” The OVAL Fire Extinguisher is just that product. Architecture and interior design have been moving towards cleaner lines in their spaces. Foregone are the days of bulky protruding water fountains (bubblers for my northern friends) and fire extinguisher cabinets. Interior designers are looking for cleaner and sleeker interior spaces but the 10lb fire extinguishers and cabinets have not changed for quite some time. OVAL is about to change all that.