I read an article recently in Business Insurance by Gloria Gonzalez titled “OSHA Standards Should be Met Despite Delays.” Gonzalez explains how the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation enforcement date delay will hopefully provide improved compliance guidelines for the the construction industry.
OSHA has April announced that September 23 is the enforcement date of its silica standard for exposure limits. Permissible exposure limits for crystalline silica over an 8-hour time limit per the the Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica rule are reduced to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air; that is one-fifth of the previous maximum.
Andy Giza, Assistant Vice President and Senior Loss Control Consultant with Stockton, Arizonia’s Lockton Cos. L.L.C. shared employers will be challenged to identify how to manage silica exposures in situations where multiple trades are working in one area and one firm is creating a silica hazard that exposes others. “From what I see with our clients, they are already actively looking at what these exposures are and understanding that even though rule is not enforceable yet, it’s still in the best interest to control these hazards to protect their workers,” he said.
Gonzalez reports in the article that Erin Brooks, with Bryan Cave L.L.P. that the enforcement rule is merely delayed and that employers should continue working toward compliance.
However, Howard Mativity, with Fisher & Phillips L.L.P. in Atlanta, is quoted that “I’ve watched good-faith research and experimentation by different universities working with forward-thinking construction companies that want to do the right thing, and they are finding in numerous settings that they can’t comply.” and that “construction employers are not misrepresenting the facts when they say compliance with the new standard will not be feasible in some, potentially many, settings.”
Mativity is also quoted that “some employers have said, ‘It’s not that big a deal as long as I can meet Table 1” and that many construction employers underestimate the difficulty to comply with the requirements. Mativity also acknowledges OSHA would have to make major changes to overturn the new standard and that unions or other groups may sue if rules are not implemented.
As this article illustrates, adhering to employee safety standards is critical, a key-component for forward thinking in construction. Additionally, there are strategic tools available to ensure employee safety or to provide a voice if unsafe silica conditions are noticed. One such platform is a hotline. Red Flag Reporting’s mission is to provide an innovative and highly effective ethics hotline, safety hotline, fraud hotline and whistleblower hotline. Red Flag Reporting will help protect your organization’s employees, goodwill, and bottom line.