Be Prepared! OSHA Silica Rule Takes Effect Saturday, Sept. 23

Filed in Codes and Regulations, Labor, Safety and Health by on September 19, 2017 15 Comments

As NAHB has reported recently, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is scheduled to begin enforcement of the silica rule in construction this Saturday, Sept. 23.

NAHB’s Silica in Construction Toolkit, found at nahb.org/silica, provides background on crystalline silica as well as resources for helping home builders and remodelers comply with the rule.

*OSHA has announced that it will consider good-faith efforts by employers to comply with the new silica rule for the first 30 days following the start of enforcement on Saturday, Sept. 23. Learn more.

As noted on NAHB’s priority issues page on this topic, OSHA has determined that a rule is needed to substantially reduce the risk of serious disease from exposure to airborne concentrations of silica dust.

Silica is a component of soil, sand and granite, and occurs in many commonly used building products such as mortar, concrete, bricks, blocks, rocks and stones. It can be disturbed by construction activities ranging from cutting concrete and brick to moving soil around the jobsite.

The crystalline silica rule issued in March 2016 is the most far-reaching regulatory initiative ever finalized for construction with an industry-estimated cost of $5 billion per year — roughly $4 billion per year more than OSHA estimates. NAHB and the Construction Industry Safety Coalition have requested that OSHA withdraw the rule and talk frankly with the construction industry about a more feasible and economical approach to dealing with the silica hazards.

NAHB’s legal challenge on the silica rule is still pending. The case is scheduled to be argued before the court on Sept. 26.

State-run OSHA programs have six months to adopt the federal rule or develop one that is equally effective.

To learn more about the rule and its requirements, see NAHB’s silica toolkit. Information is also available on OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov/silica.

For additional information, contact Rob Matuga at 800-368-5242 x8507.

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Comments (15)

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  1. Ray Kothe says:

    This is Really Really bad for our industry. People have no ideal of what the added cost will be if we and all our subs follow the rules as they have been written. Lots of added $$$$$ Lots !!

    • Dave Clark says:

      Well, don’t be surprised if the so-called Trump Administration steps in and tries to kill it, what with dollars being far more important than workers health.

  2. Larry Tuohy says:

    Good it’s about time something was done the containment
    Will not be as bad as one would think about time to start thinking about your craftsman saftey not what it will cost you

  3. D C says:

    Another cockamamie idea to rake in millions of dollars on an already highly regulated industry just to try to prove that their presence is necessary. How about let us use our own common sense when it comes to protecting our eyes, lungs, hearing etc.. Like I’m supposed to really believe they are concerned about my life and not the money they can make by trying to legitimize there existence. Enough is enough, we should all be charging double of what we currently charge. This industry is getting to be more regulated than the Medical and Law professions and most of as are still looked at as just construction workers .

    • Dave Clark says:

      The point here, obviously, is to get compliance from the top down, and not force low level employees into a position where they have to demand protection. The idea that an agency is just trying to rake in more money and justify their existence is ridiculous and not helpful. People are injured by long term low level silica exposure; effective regulation is not a bogeyman, it’s a lifesaver, and whether you wish to be saved or not, your workers probably do.

      • Earnie says:

        Workers rarely take saftey precautions on there own. There are no restrictions as to the use of masks, goggles, ear plugs, gloves, harnesses, guards and the like. The workers rarely use items even when the are provided for them.

        • John Enright says:

          Anyone who has tried wearing a dust mask and goggles can tell you that normal breathing while engaged in physical labor, in other words always, fogs the goggles and workers cast one or the other aside, which ever is the least needed. There are expensive masks that provide eye, nose and mouth protection but reduce peripheral vision to the point of being hazardous. It is true that construction equipment currently in use is more efficient and creates more dust that that used decades ago. And it is true that health hazards from silica contained in dust is more prevalent, or at least more widely recognized, than in past decades. Before OSHA makes and enforces more rules it needs to be sure there are affordable solutions rather than dump regulations on the construction industry of which they apparently have less than a working knowledge.

          • Chris P says:

            I agree the over burdon of some of this “safety” equipment makes the environment for the worker more dangerous in some cases just add the previous comment points out.
            Rarely are these regulations tested in the field in actual working conditions when they are shoved out by the authority.

    • JMBLLc says:

      Thank you DC for You comments. I agree with you. I am 65 and still an independent contractor working on my own with no health issues relating to my work. Safety starts with ourselves. Money is always the issue with the administrators even though they say it about safety. I don’t need laws to tell me how take care of myself in regards to my profession. I take responsibility for myself.

      thanks, Joe

  4. Bob Fankhauser says:

    Ref Dave’s note about “not force low level employees into a position where they have to demand protection,” I’ve seen exactly that situation. I happened to be in the Oregon OSHA office when a young man concerned about silica exposure came in. He’d been on the job, grinding concrete, for 2 weeks before he was even fitted for a mask and said the employer showed almost no concern about exposure to respirable silica.

    He’s a pretty gutsy kid, risking his job for the health of himself and his co-workers. You have to wonder about the other workers- were they ignorant of the hazards or just really desperate for a job?

  5. Jeff Driessen says:

    As a former builder and former oil field worker I was exposed to silica often. In the oil industry we went to a small clinic, they checked our oxygen level and ability to breathe then fitted us with a mask which we were required to wear at all times while outside. In construction we worked. I do not know what level was considered dangerous in the oil field, I do know that silica can cause issues just like asbestos.

  6. Jeff Driessen says:

    I guess what I’m saying is that if the NAHB, an organization I respect and support is truly concerned about workers, then I want to see truthful comparisons about other occupations and acceptable amounts of silica, what these others have done. I do not like government overreach but I do not like dieing slowly from lung cancer even less.

  7. Jim Zieglowsky says:

    What is OSHA going to do about all of the “silica dust” that is created by all of the traffic on our gravel roads, gravel shoulders along our major highway systems, etc. If they are truly worried about the safety of the general public they would address this as well as the already over regulated and struggling construction industry. There is far more dust created by vehicles traveling our roadways than is created by cutting concrete and masonry.

  8. Dave Clark says:

    The fact that we don’t see an immediate solution to one aspect of the silica problem does not mean we should ignore the side that we can quite easily do something about, imho.

  9. jpe says:

    get to work on the problem ,the industry, just like asbestos fine the suppliers NOT the workers,if the Dehec,and Osha want to ACT ,act on the source we the people are not the source,if Osha and Dehc. allow it from suppliers then fine them to pay for our supplies why should we have to pay or the customer ,also what about the big box stores that move the materials across our country . Just think about the do it your self home owners and the children . We are told as long as we not disturb these materials we will be OK ,get real people we cannot control the dust that blows in the air,we are doing a job the neighbor is cutting grass or just working in their yards,how do you control this the next thing coming is the contractor will have to enclose the whole area no matter how big .Remember how it started with asbestos now here we are again. OSHA ask for help you donot know it all

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