Overview: OSHA On Silica Exposure – New Standards
Under the March 25, 2016 final OSHA rule concerning workplace control of airborne silica exposure, the September 23, 2017 deadline for compliance is now at hand. General industry, maritime and hydraulic fracturing industries have been given longer leeway, but employers in the construction industry will soon have no excuse for failure to comply with the new Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s silica exposure requirements.
The rule involves two crystalline silica control standards: One for the construction industry and another for all other included industries. Our focus remains on construction contractor safety and the necessary components of silica exposure control as follows:
- A reliable workplace plan for control of exposure to crystalline silica
- Established procedures that dramatically reduce workplace exposure to silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air according t an eight-hour weighted average
- Equipment that ensures reliable respiratory protection
- Processes that enable efficient hazard communication
- Available means for employee medical surveillance
- AND a reliable means for keeping current and relevant records.
Full compliance also requires ready access to documented plans by OSHA as well as company employees. These written exposure control plans may be crafted according to the particulars of a given worksite. However, they must incorporate the minimum OSHA requirements for tracking silica exposure.
Written Silica Exposure Control Plan – Minimum Construction Industry Requirements
The OSHA final rule concerning silica exposure defines a simple minimum process. Your construction silica control plan must:
- Define and describe all work-related tasks that can or may involve employee exposure to silica dust
- Include a description of basic engineering controls, workplace respiratory safety practices, and task-specific respiratory protection processes and tools that are used to control employee exposure to silica risk factors
- A list of defined housekeeping processes that help limit employee contact with silica dust
- Detailed procedures that minimize and control employee access to restricted silica exposure work areas, including risk areas generated by sub-contractors, other employers and sole proprietors
- AND designate specific personal to the function of routine inspection of job sites, work-in-process, materials and equipment in use to ensure effective compliance to the written exposure control plan.
Lastly, but not to be considered of lesser importance, all construction employers must perform annual review and evaluation of the established written silica exposure control plan. This includes compulsory updating to current conditions and requirements.
Field and Office Tools That Help Ensure Adequate Control of Silica Exposure
Employee compliance to established silica control rules might be the weakest link in the program. Competent safety manager can ensure on-site access to physical safety devices. He or she can confirm proper air measurement practices. He or she can also ensure that employees comply with established silica control rules. However, unless safety managers have real-time access to field and office tracking tools, things get missed, records end up incomplete, and OSHA reviews find your company falling short. To ensure adequate control of silica exposure, every construction contractor needs reliable accountability software.
This is where the cloud-based Assignar workforce and asset allocation and planning software excels. Successful compliance management involves:
- Dispatching properly equipped workers to the right site at the right time
- Assuring rapid access to all relevant documents
- Confirmed compliance to established safety processes
- AND reliable real-time data control and documentation follow-up.
Read about “Crafting A Shared Safety Vision On The Jobsite.”