OSHA Issues Memorandum on Enforcement of Silica Standard

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a memorandum outlining the initial enforcement of the standard for respirable crystalline silica. Most provisions of the standard became enforceable on June 23, 2018.

The standard establishes a new 8-hour time-weighted average permissible exposure limit, action level and other requirements.

During the first 30 days of enforcement, OSHA will offer compliance assistance for employers who make good-faith efforts to comply with the new standard. OSHA intends to issue interim enforcement guidance until a compliance directive on the new standards is finalized.

The silica rule is intended to limit workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica. It reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for workers to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour shift. It also requires employers to implement engineering controls, offer medical exams and develop control plans related to the issue.

According to OSHA, as many as 2.3 million workers, many in the construction and manufacturing industries, will be affected by the rule.

Silica is a key ingredient in the manufacture of glass. OSHA says the most severe exposures to crystalline silica result from abrasive blasting. It’s used in many industrial applications, such as etching or frosting glass. Additionally, crystalline silica exposure can occur in the maintenance, repair and replacement of the linings of refractory brick furnaces, such as those used to manufacture glass. Other exposures to silica dust occur in china and ceramic manufacturing and the tool and die, steel and foundry industries.

NYC Workers Will be Required to Meet 40 Hours of Safety Training

Many construction workers in New York City will be required to meet increased safety training requirements. On May 9, 2018, the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) announced that workers at certain jobsites will need to receive a minimum of 40 hours of safety training in order to work there. Supervisors will be required to have a minimum of 62 hours of training. The requirements will take effect during the next 12 to 28 months.

Workers at jobsites that require a site safety plan or that are required to designate a construction superintendent, site safety coordinator or site safety manager must undergo the required training hours. Supervisors, including site safety managers, site safety coordinators, concrete safety managers, construction superintendents and competent persons at these sites must also meet the required training hours.

Delivery people, flag people, professional engineers, registered architects, special inspectors and department licensees (excluding safety professionals) are exempt. Workers at jobsites that only involve minor alterations or workers who are involved in the construction of a new 1-, 2- or 3-family home are also exempt.

The training could include either an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ten-hour class, an OSHA 30-hour class or a 100-hour training program approved by the DOB (such as training through an apprenticeship program), as well as additional training required by the department.

The 40-hour training requirement for construction workers will go into effect May 1, 2019, unless extended to September 1, 2020 by the DOB.

The training requirements will be enforced by man-dating that the permit application certify that workers under the permit will have the necessary training. The DOB can issue a violation up to $5,000 per untrained worker. The DOB will also conduct unannounced inspections at jobsites where untrained workers have been previously discovered.

“Most construction accidents are preventable, which is why increased safety training is so important. Every worker who leaves for the jobsite in the morning deserves to come home safely at night,” said Rick Chandler, NYC buildings commissioner in a statement. “I thank Mayor de Blasio, our partners in the City Council, and the members of the Site Safety Training Task Force for their work to improve safety for workers and the public.”

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