The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued its final rule that aims to protect workers from exposure to silica dust. The new rule would reduce the allowed exposure to silica from 250 micrograms per cubic meter to 50 micrograms over an eight-hour period. New standards take effect on June 23 of this year, and construction companies must comply within one year.
OSHA’s new rule also mandates that companies must record instances of worker exposure to silica and provide medical exams every three years for workers exposed to the substance for long enough periods to necessitate the use of a protective respirator for 30 days or more a year.
The Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC), a consortium of 25 trade associations, has voiced concerns with the final rule. CISC estimates the new rule could cost the industry billions of dollars more than the government estimated, and predicted it will lead to the loss of more than 33,000 full-time jobs among contractors, equipment suppliers, and building products manufacturers.
“NAHB has long advocated the importance of the rule being both technologically and economically feasible,” said Ed Brady, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). “While we’re still reviewing the final rule, we’re concerned that it may not adequately address these issues and take into consideration real-world application.”Read more