Construction industry voices concerns with silica rule
The Construction Industry Safety Coalition has concerns with the final rule on respirable crystalline silica released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 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.
The CISC is made up of 25 trade associations, representing all sectors of the construction industry. 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.
“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 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.”
Associated Builders and Contractors Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs Ben Brubeck said: “The construction industry submitted hundreds of pages of comments in response to OSHA’s proposal, as we review the final rule we will see whether OSHA has taken these comments into account in developing a standard that is workable.”
“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,” added 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.”
According to a Department of Labor release, the final rule will improve worker protection by:
• Reducing the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour shift.
• Requiring 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.
• Providing 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.
• Staggering compliance dates to ensure employers have sufficient time to meet the requirements.
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.
More information on the OSHA rule is available at www.osha.gov/silica.
The members of the CISC include: The American Road and Transportation Builders Association, American Society of Concrete Contractors, American Subcontractors Association, Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated General Contractors, Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Building Stone Institute, Concrete Sawing & Drilling Association, Construction & Demolition Recycling Association, Distribution Contractors Association, Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, Leading Builders of America, Marble Institute of America, Mason Contractors Association of America, Mechanical Contractors Association of America, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of the Remodeling Industry, National Demolition Association, National Electrical Contractors Association, National Roofing Contractors Association, National Utility Contractors Association, Natural Stone Council, The Association of Union Constructors and the Tile Roofing Institute.