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.
Concrete is an extremely strong building material, but has a notoriously weak tensile strength. In order to resist tension, bending, and shear forces, steel rebar or other reinforcement materials are added either prior to the placement or into the mix. Even with reinforcement, concrete is still extremely rigid and prone to cracking. In the event of a major earthquake, the uneven and horizontal forces can cause structures to crack and, in the worst case, cause failure.
Construction Safety is talked about constantly. There are many construction companies that take it very seriously. There are also many that don’t. All will say it’s their top priority.
So what can a city do that’s facing regular worker deaths and increases in workplace injuries? New York City has decided to require extensive safety training for all of the 185,000 construction workers in the city.
According to the Workzonesafety.com, nearly half (46%) of all work zone-associated worker fatalities from 2003-2010 were caused by being struck by a vehicle. Surprisingly, only around 2% of those workers were killed by a drunk driver. From 2003 to 2015 (the last year this data was updated), a total of 1324 work zone fatalities have been recorded, which averages to about 102 per year.
Residents living near a Jersey City, New Jersey construction site were frightened as they watched “explosions” of smoke coming out of holes in the ground.
Portable toilets are the setting for many pranks around a construction site, but I never thought there could be something worse than just getting stuck in one. Turns out I was extremely wrong, because a worker in New Orleans was run over by a dump truck while using the port-a-john.
At last week’s National Safety Council Congress & Expo, OSHA’s deputy director of Directorare of Enforcement Programs, Patrick Kapust, announced their 10 most frequesntly cited safety violations for their fiscal year 2017, reports the National Safety Council.
As we saw after the Lake Oroville Dam in California collapsed earlier this year, dam failures can have sudden and devastating effects. Recent footage showing raging muddy waters swallowing a construction site in a matter of seconds has been shared after river dam in Thatom, Loas failed.
On Saturday, September 23, OSHA’s much talked about and controversial new Silica Dust Exposure Limit regulations went into effect. Late last week, the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of OSHA, Thomas Galassi, released a memorandum that issues a 30 day “grace period” for compliance.
[guest post] Working in construction certainly has its upsides - you get in a great workout, you learn valuable skills, and you develop incredible camaraderie on the jobsite. However, it also is one of the most dangerous jobs you can have.
Hurricane Irma ripped through the Caribbean and landed in South Florida a little over a week ago, sadly killing at least 50 people in Florida and causing plenty of property damage. High winds that accompanied the storm also caused the collapse of 3 construction cranes – two in Miami and one more in Fort Lauderdale. The crane in Fort Lauderdale was recently dismantled and the action was caught on video.