In January of 2017, OSHA released a final rule which greatly reduced the allowable exposure to beryllium alloy, 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.
Recently, OSHA issued a statement that it will not enforce the new beryllium exposure limit until it determines if it will amend the rule for the construction and shipyard sectors. According to the press release, OSHA will seek comment on the rule, as the administration “has evidence that exposure in these industries is limited to a few operations and has information suggesting that requiring the ancillary provisions broadly may not improve worker protection and be redundant with overlapping protections in other standards.” The comment period began on June 27, 2017 and will end on 9/25/17. For more information on submitting a comment, follow this link on OSHA’s website.
The New York Times has discovered public record that shows the Abrasive Blasting Manufacturers Alliance, which is an industry group made up of companies that sell coal slag, has spent around $60,000 for lobbying efforts directed at OSHA since the beginning of the year. The Alliance issued a statement in June, stating that there is a major difference between beryllium alloy and beryllium, with the latter being found in abrasive blasting. The group states that there is no evidence that the mineral beryllium is linked to any illnesses, as opposed to beryllium alloy. The group also states that there are currently 27 current OSHA regulations covering abrasive blasting.
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.