New OSHA Silica Rule Released
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Posted by: Russell Hitchen
For Immediate Release
March 24, 2016
Contact: Patrick O’Brien, Executive Director
Concrete Sawing & Drilling Association
New OSHA Silica Rule Released
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a final rule for workers exposed to respirable silica dust on March 24, 2016. The 1,772-page rule document can be downloaded by Clicking Here. A conference call was scheduled by OSHA the same day to discuss the new rule.
CSDA will continue to work with the other 24 organizations that make up the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC), which the association has been doing for over three years now, to see what can be done to improve the situation for CSDA members and the wider industry.
The final rule will:
- Reduce the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour shift.
- Require employers to use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) and work practices to limit worker exposure; provide respiratory protection when controls are not able to limit exposures to the permissible level; limit access to high exposure areas; train workers; and provide medical exams to highly exposed workers.
- Provide greater certainty and ease of compliance to construction employers – including many small employers – by including a table of specified controls they can follow to be in compliance, without having to monitor exposures.
- Stagger compliance dates to ensure employers have sufficient time to meet the requirements, e.g., extra time for the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) industry to install new engineering controls and for all general industry employers to offer medical surveillance to employees exposed between the PEL and 50 micrograms per cubic meter and the action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter.
The final rule is written as two standards, one for construction and one for general industry and maritime.
Employers covered by the construction standard have until June 23, 2017 to comply with most requirements. Employers covered by the general industry and maritime standard have until June 23, 2018 to comply with most requirements; additional time is provided to offer medical exams to some workers and for hydraulic fracturing employers to install dust controls to meet the new exposure limit.
More information is available at https://www.osha.gov/silica/.
CISC Reaction to New Silica Rule
CISC has concerns with the final rule on respirable crystalline silica released by the OSHA. It appears, upon initial review, that the 1,772-page final rule contains some of the same problematic provisions that the CISC previously identified and shared with the agency. CISC has been a highly engaged participant in the rulemaking process since OSHA put forth the proposed rule two and a half years ago.
“NAHB has long advocated the importance of the rule being both technologically and economically feasible,” said Ed Brady, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and home builder and developer from Bloomington, Ill. “While we’re still reviewing the final rule, we’re concerned that it may not adequately address these issues and take into consideration real-world application.”
“The construction industry submitted hundreds of pages of comments in response to OSHA’s proposal and as we review the final rule we will see whether OSHA has taken these comments into account in developing a standard that is workable,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs Ben Brubeck. “ABC will remain an engaged stakeholder with OSHA in developing viable standards that will promote healthy and safe construction jobsites.”
“Instead of crafting a new standard that the construction industry can comply with, administration officials have instead opted to set a new standard that is well beyond the capabilities of current air filtration and dust removal technologies,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America. “Our concern is that this new rule will do little to improve workplace health and safety, which is why we will continue our review of the new measure, consult with our members and decide on a future course of action that will best serve the health and safety of millions of construction workers across the country.”
“At first glance, we have observed that a number of provisions that concerned us in the proposed rule have been left in the final rule. This makes us continue to question the final rule’s technological and economic feasibility for the construction industry. In addition, OSHA has added several new provisions not in the proposed rule that we have not had a chance to thoroughly review and consider the impacts. Once we complete our review we will be able to be more specific about what was released today,” said Jeff Buczkiewicz, president of the Mason Contractors Association of America.
ABOUT THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY SAFETY COALITION: CISC is made up of 25 trade associations, representing all sectors of the construction industry, including commercial building, heavy industrial production, home building, road repair, specialty trade contractors and material suppliers. Virtually every construction trade, task, and activity is represented by the member associations of the CISC. Workplace safety and health is a priority for all members of the coalition, and each is committed to helping create safer construction jobsites for workers.