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Enforcement of Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction Delayed

OSHA has delayed enforcement of  the Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction until September 23, 2017.

In a memorandum released by OSHA on April 6, 2017 it was noted that “The construction standard for crystalline silica has a number of unique features warranting development of additional guidance materials. In order to provide the opportunity to conduct additional outreach to the regulated community and to provide additional time to train compliance officers, we have decided to delay enforcement of this standard until September 23, 2017.”

Construction Compliance Guide for Silica Released

November 10, 2016: OSHA has issued a Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction.  The guide is intended to help small businesses understand and comply with OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica standard for construction.

Workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica are at increased risk of developing serious adverse health effects including silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease. The guide describes the steps that employers are required to take to protect construction employees from the hazards associated with exposure to respirable crystalline silica.  The guide is divided into sections that correspond to the standard’s major provisions. Each section describes the provision and gives additional details to help employers better understand and comply with the standard.

OSHA will soon be releasing a separate small entity compliance guide for the general industry and maritime silica standard.  For more information, see OSHA’s Silica Rule web page.

Jordan Barab Discusses OSHA Compliance Assistance and Onsite Consultation

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jordan Barab recently sat down with the National Safety Council’s Safety & Health magazine for a Q&A about compliance assistance and onsite consultation.

He, in part, said: “There is an impression, especially among some of the employer associations, that this administration has somehow turned OSHA around and instead of having a balanced program, we’ve gone totally into enforcement and we don’t do any compliance assistance anymore – which is totally a myth.”

You can read the entire Compliance Assistance and Onsite Consultation article here.

OSHA Announces Updates to Injury and Illness Recordkeeping Requirements

OSHA has issued a final rule to modernize injury data collection to better inform workers, employers, the public, and OSHA about workplace hazards. Making this information publicly available will improve OSHA’s ability to target its compliance assistance and enforcement programs, and provide resources to employers who want to improve their safety and health programs.

Under the new rule, all establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must electronically submit to OSHA injury and illness information from OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301. Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain industries must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A only.

To ensure that the injury data on OSHA logs are accurate and complete, the final rule also promotes an employee’s right to report injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation, and clarifies that an employer’s procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses must be reasonable and must not discourage employees from reporting.

The new requirements take effect August 10, 2016, with data submissions phased in beginning in 2017. These requirements do not add to or change an employer’s obligation to complete and retain injury and illness records under the injury and illness recording and reporting regulation.

For more information, see the OSHA Workplace Illnesses and Injuries web page, which includes a fact sheet, FAQs about the new rule, and a link to the press release announcing the new rule.

Silica Standard Revision Announced

OSHA announced revised standards today (March 24, 2016) regulating workplace exposure to crystalline silica. OSHA predicts that the rule will save more than 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year, once its effects are fully realized. About 2.3 million men and women are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including 2 million construction workers who drill and cut silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing.

Most employers can limit harmful dust exposure in practical ways, using equipment that is widely available – generally using water or a vacuum system to divert or capture dust at the source. Employers have the flexibility to choose equipment based on its overall performance in complying with the standards.

OSHA has issued two silica standards: one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. Both standards take effect June 23, 2016, after which industries have one to five years to come into compliance, based on the following schedule:

  •  Construction – One year to comply (June 23, 2017) with all requirements except the methods of sample analysis (June 23, 2018).
  • General Industry and Maritime – Two years to comply (June 23, 2018) with all requirements except medical surveillance for employees exposed at or above the action level for 30 or more days a year (June 23, 2020).
  • Hydraulic Fracturing – Two years to comply (June 23, 2018) with an additional three years to meet engineering control requirements (June 23, 2021).

For more information, please visit the OSHA Silica Final Rule web page.