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.”
Last November, OSHA issued a final rule that would finally allow them to enforce language, which has been in their standards since 2010, requiring construction crane operators to be formally qualified to operate the equipment. The first day of enforcement for that rule had been set for November 10, 2018, but the agency has recently proposed a new rule that would pull back some of the initial requirements.
Finding enough labor to complete jobs has been a problem for many companies in the construction industry over the past few years. Amid a construction “boom” in many areas, general and subcontractors are accepting jobs without enough people to work them, so some have turned to hiring “subs of subs” to supplement their work, a report published by The Tennessean says.
In March, OSHA announced that they would be enforcing their previously delayed beryllium exposure limit for the construction industry on May 11, 2018. The agency has recently confirmed that enforcement date in a memorandum on May 9, 2018.
OSHA newer and more stringent regulations regarding employee’s exposure to respirable crystalline silica officially went into effect on September 23, 2017. The new reduced the permissible exposure limit of the substance, which is found mostly in products containing sand (like concrete, mortar, and brick), from 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air down to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an 8 hour shift.
For the third time in a year, construction workers have had to be rescued while dangling mid-air by fire rescue teams in Southern Florida. Last year, there were two incidents in Sarasota, Florida that involved failed suspended scaffolding in as many months. Just last week, another incident in Palmetto Bay required the Fire Department to intervene.
The construction industry has never been one to freely share information without charging a fee. That’s changed slightly recently, with some major players willing to provide useful tools and information to help us become better. For instance, we recently shared that Procore has released hundreds of free continuing education courses on their education platform. Another useful site we’ve found recently has shared dozens of toolbox talks to help your team on the jobsite learn about safety.
[guest post] The reality is that construction workers, who already face hundreds of hazards just by working in the industry, are also often at risk for becoming injured or ill due to contact with wildlife.
It should be obvious that formal safety training is extremely important to running a successful safety program on any construction site. The most common route for construction employers to train their staff is through OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 courses, but, in the past, it was pretty confusing to determine who was actually authorized to teach the courses and where to find them.
[guest post] Spring is here and before we know it, summer will follow. In both seasons, weather conditions can present dangers to construction workers. Without education and preparation, workers may find that they are seriously ill or injured during work.
Crane collapses on construction jobsites are usually pretty terrifying, especially when the jobsite is full of workers. A construction site in St. Petersburg, Florida got extremely lucky when a large construction crane collapsed and narrowly missed several running workers.