The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently stepped up its enforcement of its Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction Standard, including issuing citations to one central Ohio construction company with numerous industrial hygiene and silica violations in the past month. OSHA has recently added four industrial hygienists to the Columbus, Ohio, office and has stated that OSHA plans to place an emphasis on silica enforcement moving forward. Under an emphasis program, OSHA has the right and ability to stop whenever they see or expect a hazard, similar to excavation and trenching.
Full enforcement of OSHA’s Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction Standard for the construction industry began in October 2017. The standard significantly lowered the permissible exposure limit of silica dust (respirable crystalline silica) by employees and substantially impacted contractors that engage in activities that create silica dust by cutting, grinding, or blasting materials like concrete, stone and brick. Click here for more information from McDonald Hopkins on the changes to OSHA’s silica standard and valuable links to resources on the subject.
According to OSHA:
"Exposure to silica can cause health disorders, including kidney disease and lung cancer," said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. "Employers using products containing silica in their operations are required to take all precautions to ensure employees are protected from life-threatening diseases."
"Employers should develop comprehensive safety and health programs to ensure that workers are trained about hazards in the workplace and proper safety and health precautions," said OSHA Area Director Larry Johnson, in Columbus, Ohio. "OSHA's Crystalline Silica page provides information on what employers must do to limit worker exposures to silica in general industry, construction, and maritime industries."
McDonald Hopkins attorneys are presently handling several silica-related OSHA citations for our current clients in the Midwest and are available as a resource to your company in dealing with citations and/or guidance regarding compliance requirements. For additional information regarding OSHA’s new silica in construction standard and how your company can comply with the new requirements, please contact one of the attorneys listed below.