OSHA’s new safety standards on the permissible level of crystalline silica goes in effect on September 23. Originally set for an enforcement date of June 23, the ruling was delayed three months for a variety of reasons including the transition to a new presidential administration and appointment of Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta.
The new OSHA standards have been several years in the making, and according to many, long overdue. The last time OSHA updated silica standards was 1970. That being said, there have been vocal advocates and critics on both sides of the debate, which Procore covered in a thorough article on the ruling.
While the new standard is comprehensive and complex, we think it’s the right move for the industry. 2.3 Million workers per day are exposed to crystalline silica, and while there has been a decline in cases of silicosis in the past several years, it is still a serious health risk that contributed to the cause of 1,100 reported deaths in the U.S. from 2005 to 2014.
The good news for construction companies is that the number of resources available to aid compliance to the new standards is plentiful. OSHA, industry groups, and construction companies have all gone to great lengths to provide comprehensive resources. So, without further ado, here is our round-up of OSHA Crystalline Silica Compliance Resources:
A. Detailed Compliance Guidelines for all 18 tasks included in Table 1. There is about a page of guidelines for each task, including photos of tools equipped with the appropriate dust control measures, and bulleted sections detailing what employers must provide at the jobsite to ensure full and proper implementation.
B. Written Exposure Control Plan Instructions with information on what employers need to include in their plan, and examples of appropriate copy to follow as a guide when creating your own.
C. Recordkeeping Guidelines with details on the types of data that should be tracked, as well as medical records employers are required to have on-hand for their workers.
Finally, if this is all feeling overwhelming, don’t fear. OSHA also provides consulting services to help you get all the details for your business in order. Consultants will come on-site and work with you to establish compliance measures that align with your conditions. All services are confidential and do not result in citations or penalties.
The construction industry has responded to OSHA’s new standard by providing a wealth of their own resources. Groups like the Association of General Contractors (AGC) have a members-only page with silica resources which includes an enhanced Table 1, and an Air Monitoring and Objective Data Collection Form that can aid employers in recordkeeping.
And probably our favorite industry resource is the Silica-Safe Website, provided by the Center for Construction Research and Training. This site is really a gold mine of resources for your company to aid in understanding the impacts of the new standards, what other companies are doing to comply, and how to approach training your staff.
Some construction companies have also stepped up to provide helpful guides and information on the ruling. Our friends at Procore put together a couple of fantastic resources, including an article that makes a case for why this ruling is so important where they share first-hand stories of workers suffering from silicosis, symptoms to look out for, and provide a brief overview of what the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) is and how to measure it.
At the end of the article, they provide a link to download a 15-page ebook called Silica Dust Rule 101 that is a great primer on the ruling. We found Section III especially helpful by laying out a four step process employers can follow to comply with the ruling. In the FAQ section, Procore gets specific on the issue of anticipated fines for silica dust violation.
Power Tool Resources
Leading providers of jobsite tools have all responded to the OSHA silica ruling with new tools, attachments and dust extraction solutions available through their product line. They’ve also put together their own helpful guides to know which tools you should be looking at based on the work your crew is engaged in. Most pages include short videos showcasing compliant tools, downloadable product guides, flyers and catalogs.
The recordkeeping aspect of the OSHA ruling is an area Rhumbix is looking to address through a new feature called Shift Extras which is currently in a closed beta with one of our customers.
Shift Extras is a customizable feature that gives foremen the ability to select and tag specific hours with additional information they need to communicate to project managers, payroll, or other back office functions. Anything above hours and cost codes can be captured using Shift Extras, including exposure to silica. Foremen will be able to tag the specific number of hours during a shift where a worker was doing silica work, and then make that data available for export to health and safety tracking systems.
To learn more about Shift Extras or how Rhumbix can help you meet compliance requirements, we invite you to contact our Sales team for a no-hassle conversation. And if there’s a fit, then a Rhumbix Demo may be the next appropriate step.
Want more? Check out our June article on Safety Compliance and the New OSHA Rule.