After being delayed for 90 days, the Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction Standard became effective on September 23, 2017. The reason the initiative was delayed was to allow the agency time to create guidance and educational materials related to the new rules, and to provide help for companies to ensure they were compliant.
OSHA released a memo three days before the new rule was going to be enforced stating that they are delaying citations for a period of 30 days, as long as companies are taking construction safety seriously and making a good faith effort to become compliant. However, instead, the company is now offering help to employers to make sure they are fully compliant.
The fact is, respirable crystalline silica dust can be quite dangerous. It is created during various work operations, such as jackhammering, grinding, drilling and sawing materials such as mortar, block, brick, concrete, rock and stone. When this material is inhaled, it can result in lung cancer, silicosis, and bronchitis. Some tips to ensure construction companies are compliant with the new rules can be found here.
Construction Safety Tip 1 for Silica Dust: Use Table 1
One of the easiest ways to ensure a company is compliant with the new rules and to protect workers from this dust is to follow Table 1. In this Table, 18 tasks that are related to exposure to silica dust are outlined. For all of the tasks in this table, there are also work practices or engineering controls to use to prevent going over the permissible exposure limit.
If you have plans to use the engineering control methods that are outlined in the Table mentioned above, then it may require you to upgrade the tools your workers use. You may also need to purchase dust collection systems and shrouds that meet the Table 1 requirements to stay compliant.
As with any construction safety issue, it is necessary for employers to give their workers training on the new rules related to silica dust. The training needs to cover things such as the health hazards that are associated with exposure as well as knowledge of what tasks will put workers in contact with silica dust. The workers also need to be taught how to use control methods to keep themselves free of silica dust related issues.
When it is time to clean up after a task that involves silica dust, it is crucial that employers limit the exposure of their workers. Brushing and dry sweeping should both be avoided if possible. Instead, use a wet sweeping method or a HEPA-filtered vacuum to clean up the debris.
If you have been exposed to silica dust and are now sick or injured, then you should contact the attorneys at Joubert Law by calling 225-761-3822 for help and information.