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.”
Traditional safety training for construction workers includes OSHA 10-hour or 30-hour courses, toolbox talks, and safety inspections. Those training techniques are all important and necessary, but construction workers are an extremely hands-on group of individuals and putting them in real life situations can be much more beneficial to them instead of classroom training.
Ladders are one of the most widely used and necessary pieces of equipment on a construction jobsite. They’re also one of the most misused and abused pieces of equipment on a jobsite. In addition to being one of the most frequently cited OSHA violations each year, it also accounts for too many of the industry’s yearly fatalities and countless injuries.
Falls continue to be the number one leading cause of death on construction sites across the country, accounting for around 40% each year. Even if you can convince your construction crew to wear personal fall arrest systems each time they’re required, proper training is required to select the correct type of fall protection and the anchor points, as well as performing proper inspections of the equipment. An app called Harness Hero is trying to help solve the latter problem.
Even though OSHA recently eliminated the need for employers to electronically submit OSHA Forms 300 and 301, citing privacy concerns, companies are still responsible for submitting OSHA Form 300A – and the deadline is fast approaching.
Multi-employer worksites are extremely common in the construction industry, but they can still make work extremely complicated. One of those complications results when a subcontractor receives a governmental violation, such as an OSHA violation. As a controlling employer on the site, can a general contractor be held responsible for safety hazards of a subcontractor? One court says yes.
After an abundance of delays on rule that would require crane operators to be formally qualified to operate, OSHA finally landed on an effective date of February 7, 2019. After receiving feedback from industry partners, OSHA has decided to delay enforcement for 60 days for contractors who make a “good faith effort” to comply.
As has been expected for a few months now, OSHA has officially removed the requirement for large companies with 250 or more employees to submit OSHA Forms 300 and 301. The administration cited privacy concerns as the reason for the change.
Be careful - owners and contractors are now being held criminally liable for their carelessness and disregard of safety protocols.
Since the 2016 Federal budget was passed, OSHA has increased their maximum citation penalty amount to adjust for inflation on a yearly basis. The 2019 increase has recently been announced.