OSHA had to fight hard to finally get its relatively new crystalline silica dust exposure regulations passed, and, once it did, the agency wasted no time enforcing the law. In the regulations first 6 months, OSHA issued 116 violations, but the highest penalty at that point was $9,239. More recently, the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Compliance Division (VOSH) has possibly issued a record citation to a highway contractor, a whopping $304,130 penalty.
According to the Notification of Penalty, the contractor, Lanford Brothers Company, Inc., was issued 2 serious violations and 3 willful-serious violations.
The first serious violation alleged that the employer did not ensure each employee was wearing proper PPE, including eye and face protection from flying particles. The second was for failure to train their employees on the health effects of silica dust exposure. Both of those penalties were $8,065.00 each.
Each of the 3 willful-serious violations were given penalties of $96,000. The first alleged that Lanford did not implement proper engineering controls, like vacuum dust extraction or the wet method, while using jackhammers to remove concrete from bridge piers. The 2nd violation alleged Lanford did not perform an assessment of each employee who was exposed to the silica dust. Finally, the 3rd violation stated that adequate respiratory protection was not provided where required by Table 1.
All silica related regulations for the construction industry can be found in section 1926.1153. For additional information and training materials, we also recently shared 7 short videos that you can share with your crews and 8 frequently asked questions.
More information: Citation and Notification of Penalty | VOSH
Last fall, OSHA announced its intentions to explore updating the 2016 silica dust regulations that seemingly took the construction by storm. Their intent was to gain feedback on additional dust control methods that would be suitable for hazard control, as well as on additional tasks and equipment not currently covered by Table 1 in 29 CFR 1926.1153. Last week, they announced the next step they’re taking towards revisions.
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.
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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.