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.”
Almost 18 months ago, an under construction pedestrian bridge on Florida International University’s (FIU) campus collapsed, killing 6 people and injuring another 8. While many investigations have closed, including OSHA’s scathing report, families of victims and survivors have been awaiting the results of civil lawsuits filed against the companies in charge of the projects.
The spring of 2019 saw 3 trench collapse deaths in a span of 10 days. One at a home construction site in Colorado, another during a culvert install in Marysville, Ohio, and a third at a residential site in Sugarcreek Township, Ohio. The latter has recently received a hefty fine and penalty from OSHA.
Personal fall protection devices are extremely important to saving lives and preventing injuries due to falls on a jobsite. Half the battle is getting your team to wear harnesses, but when they do, you need to trust that the devices will work when they’re needed. 3M has recently issued an immediate stop use and product recall on two of their fall protection products.
While placing concrete on the 7th floor of a new hotel in Houston, TX, 16 construction workers were suddenly sent falling to the 6th floor below, sending 9 of them to the hospital, according to local news reports.
A recent crane collapse in Dallas, TX, that left a woman, who was in her apartment, dead, several others injured, and hundreds displaced, has triggered a local news station to dig further into what the city and state are doing to protect from these accidents in the future.
Last year, over 130 organizations petitioned OSHA to issue a heat protection standard, citing needs for mandatory rest breaks, PPE, hydration, and monitoring. On July 10, 2019, Representative Judy Chu of California introduced H.R. 3668 to meet the organizations’ request.
Many areas throughout the country saw their hottest temperatures of the year over the weekend. In response to the forecasts, OSHA issued a reminder to employers about the dangers of heat illness.
Falls are, by far, the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry, accounting for nearly 40% each year. That fact is the main reason why personal fall protection devices are so heavily stressed in the industry. But, even if your fall is arrested by a harness, you’re not out of the woods yet, as serious complications can happen while you’re being suspended in the air.
We all know – or, at least, should know – about construction’s Fatal Four Hazards: Falls, Struck-by, Caught-in or Between, and Electrical. Those hazards get most of the attention in most safety training courses in construction and rightfully so, they contribute to a large majority of all deaths on the jobsite. A recent study, however, highlights the need to take certain health hazards more seriously, due to their long term effects.
Summer is officially upon us and beating the heat will keep you healthy and productive. There are many summer dangers on construction sites, but OSHA maintains that water, rest, and shade are the most important factors to avoiding heat illness. Here are a few products to help keep you and hydrated on your jobsites this summer.