OSHA Silica Rule Violation Data Shows Where Inspectors are Looking

OSHA’s new Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction Standard went into effect in September, and after a 30-day grace period on citations for good-faith compliance efforts, OSHA inspectors began citing violations on Oct. 23.

Bloomberg Environment recently acquired and analyzed the OSHA citation data and found that the regulator cited 117 violations of the new rule in the first six months of enforcement – through April 23.

The most common violations of the new standard include:

  • 35 cited violations for failure to conduct an exposure assessment of worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica;
  • 31 cited violations for failing to adhere to the Table 1 list of equipment/tasks and OSHA’s required engineering and work control methods and respiratory protection;
  • 20 cited violations for lack of a written exposure control plan.

Table 1 of the new standard outlines 18 procedures builders can follow as an alternative to monitoring air quality, like using stationary masonry saws equipped with an integrated water delivery system that continuously feeds water to the blade. The silica rule establishes a new standard for a permissible level of airborne silica on a job site.

The vast majority of violations – 80% – were classified as serious. The highest fine imposed was $9,239, out of a maximum possible fine of $12,934. The data also shows that many of the new silica rule citations were made in conjunction with other general safety violations, meaning that the inspections of compliance of the new rule were made during other OSHA jobsite inspections.

NAHB continues to work with OSHA to clarify some of the new requirements through an ongoing formal question and answer submission process. NAHB resources and background information for complying with the new rule can be found nahb.org/silica.

Contact Rob Matuga at 800-368-5242 x8507 with questions.

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