OSHA enforcement has not trailed off like some say – especially with 116 silica violations in just six short months!
Last summer, OSHA delayed enforcing the Silica Standard from June 23rd to September 23, 2017. They delayed enforcing to provide more training to the construction industry. But since April 17, 2018, OSHA and state agencies have issued 116 violation citations under the silica standard rule, per Bloomberg BNA.
The number of violations in six short months is likely to increase since OSHA can take up to six months after an inspection to issue citations.
When silica dust is inhaled, it can scar lung tissues that often times leads to the lung disease silicosis, making breathing difficult – even resulting in death.
With over 2 million construction workers exposed to the hazardous substance of silica, it’s critical that the construction industry complies with OSHA requirements for the standard. Read more about key provisions and compliance here.
According to Bloomberg BNA, they suggest that general contractors make sure their subcontractors follow the final rule because general contractors at sites where OSHA finds silica problems could face citations if the agency believes they were responsible for silica protections.
Awareness is the key to compliance and per OSHA, as the employer, you are required to post signs at all entrances to regulate areas that bear the following legend: DANGER RESPIRABLE CRYSTALLINE SILICA MAY CAUSE CANCER CAUSES DAMAGE TO LUNGS WEAR RESPIRATORY PROTECTION IN THIS AREA AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY
Please note: While the non-regulated worded products are also available at Accuform, they’re considered as ‘supplemental’ signs.
80% of the silica violations for the construction industry were classified as serious, but the highest fine imposed was $9,239 - just short of the potential maximum of $12,934. OSHA is steadily increasing its enforcement of the rule as contractors were allowed to come in compliance and agency guidance on conducting inspections was solidified, records say.
If you look at the violations by the numbers, the most frequently mentioned provision, with 35 cases found by inspectors, was employers failing to measure silica exposure levels (29 C.F.R. 1926.1153(d)(2)(i)).
Almost as frequently cited, with 31 violations, is incorrectly following Table 1’s procedures ((29 C.F.R. 1926.1153 (c)(1)), intended to reduce silica exposure.
On June 8, 2018, OSHA issued a memorandum outlining standards for respirable crystalline silica for the general industry and maritime. Most provisions of the standard become enforceable for the general industry and maritime on June 23, 2018.
The silica standard for the general industry and maritime establishes a new 8-hour time-weighted average permissible exposure limit, action level, and associated ancillary requirements.
According to the OSHA memorandum, 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.
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