OSHA’s Final Rule to Protect Workers from Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica

From the United States Department of Labor: Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)

Rule requires engineering controls to keep workers from breathing silica dust

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule to curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America’s workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The rule is comprised of two standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime.

OSHA estimates that the rule will save over 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year, once its effects are fully realized. The Final Rule is projected to provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion, annually.

About 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush, or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in general industry operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Responsible employers have been protecting workers from harmful exposure to respirable crystalline silica for years, using widely-available equipment that controls dust with water or a vacuum system.

Key Provisions

  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, aaveraged over an 8-hour shift.
  • Requires employers to: use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
  • Provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health.
  • Provides flexibility to help employers – especially small businesses – protect workers from silica exposure.

Compliance Schedule

Both standards contained in the final rule take effect on June 23, 2016., after which industries have one to five years to comply with most requirements, based on the following schedule:

Construction – June 23, 2017, one year after the effective date.

General Industry and Maritime – June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date.

Hydraulic Fracturing – June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date for all provisions except Engineering Controls, which have a compliance date of June 23, 2021.


The U.S. Department of Labor first highlighted the hazards of respirable crystalline silica in the 1930s, after a wave fo worker deaths. The department set standards to limit worker exposure in 1971, when OSHA was created. However, the standards are outdated and do not adequately protect workers from silica-related diseases. Furthermore, workers are being exposed to silica in new industries such as stone or artificial stone countertop fabrication and hydraulic fracturing.

A full review of scientific evidence, industry consensus standards, and extensive stakeholder input provide the basis for the final rule, which was proposed in September 2013. The rule-making process allowed OSHA to solicit input in various forms for nearly a full year. The agency held 14 days of public hearings, during which more than 200 stakeholders presented testimony, and accepted over 2,000 comments, amounting to about 34,000 pages of material. In response to this extensive public engagement, OShA made substantial changes, including enhanced employer flexibility in choosing how to reduce levels of respirable crystalline silica, while maintaining or improving worker protection.

More Information and Assistance

OSHA looks forward to working with employers to ensure that all workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica realize the benefits of this final rule. Please check back from frequent updates on compliance assistance materials and events, and learn about OSHA’s on-site consulting services for small business.

OSHA approved State Plans have six months to adopt standards that are at least as effective as federal OShA standards. Establishments in states that operate their own safety and health plans should check with their State Plan for the implemetnation date of the new standards.

For more information visit the OSHA website.

Climbing the Ladder of Success (Preventing Injuries Involving Ladders)


The Art of Stalling

A Safety Management Approach

Bob Lapidus, CSP, CSMS

Monday Morning, 8:00am
The main facility is due its weekly inspection. I have too much paperwork to do. I will skip this week’s inspection and do it next week.

Tuesday Afternoon, 2:00pm
I really need to talk to my boss about getting increased funding for training, but she seems never to have time for me. I will wait to see when I think she might be more open to my request.

Wednesday Noontime
The safety committee is supposed to meet. If only a few show up I will cancel the meeting. We all have so many other things to do and we rarely get anything finished at these meetings.

Thursday Morning, 10:00am
We need to review all our safety programs. I wonder if I can get by doing the review at the beginning of next year.

Friday Afternoon, 3:00pm
It’s personal protective equipment (PPE) check time, one of the most boring jobs that I have. I will postpone this task to see if someone else might be willing to do it.

Stalling to do what needs to be achieved is a human condition. There are activities we love to do while there are other activities that bore us to tears or include monstrous obstacles, mountains we would just rather not climb.

It is called procrastination, from the Latin words, pro (forward) and cras (tomorrow) meaning putting something off until another day (or sometimes another week, month, or even another year). Sometimes what we put off never happens.

In safety, putting something off could be disastrous. Truly, procrastination could be the reason a job is performed unsafely, or a piece of equipment is not maintained, or a safety policy or procedure is never written.

Some examples include:
1. The monthly fire extinguisher check is not carried out – in the event of a fire, a fire extinguisher is not fully charged and fails to provide an employee with sufficient fire extinguishing agent. The employee could then be vulnerable to engulfment in a fire.
2. A PPE assessment has never been accomplished resulting in employees not wearing safety protection, and leaving them open to sustaining an injury.
3. No policies and procedures are in writing. Nothing is documented on how to work correctly or what has been done to implement proactive programs.
4. How to do a job correctly is not taught so employees fail to know how to do their tasks in a safe manner, let alone efficiently, productively, and without error.

Stalling means procrastinating, postponing, delaying, dawdling, dragging one’s feet…putting off until another day that never comes. Very few things in life work out for the good that are left until another day. We need to prioritize what needs to be acted upon, and then move forward moment by moment to get things completed as soon as possible.

For More Information:
To become part of discussions on topics like the one above, go to www.safetycenter.org to obtain information about Safety Center’s Safety Management Specialist Certificate.

After completing this nine-day program, graduates may take the exam to achieve the Certified Safety Management Specialist (CSMS) designation. Recipients of the CSMS receive a beautiful plaque and become part of an elite group of safety specialists who have achieved this recognition. Once this certification is attained, successful candidates keep it for the rest of their lives without any additional requirements or fees.

Safety Center Creates Youth Advisory Council with Funding from The Allstate Foundation

Empowering high school students to make a difference in the world.

Sacramento, CA, June 29, 2016 — Safety Center creates a Youth Advisory Council (YAC) with funding from The Allstate Foundation to raise awareness around teen safe driving issues. YAC members will plan and help out with events like the Teen Safe Driving Day at Safetyville on September 17, 2016 and an event to bring together youth in a year-end celebration in April during National Distracted Driver Awareness Month. YAC will be a resource for youth-led peer-to-peer campaigns focused on reducing distracted behaviors along with the Safety Center.

The Safety Center with funding in its fifth year from The Allstate Foundation has successfully ended the Teen-to-Teen Safe Driving Campaigns in California for the 2015/2016 school year with schools throughout California earning money for their clubs and making a difference in their communities. During the month-long campaigns, student leaders created positive safe driving messages and planned activities to engage their peers, parents and their communities. Winning schools conducted pre- and post-campaign surveys to measure their effectiveness in making traffic safety a priority for teen drivers and passengers.

Serrano High School in Phelan, California which was the Grand Prize winner for the Southern California region hosted Tailgate Parties at football games outreaching to parents and students with distracted driver information, held student/faculty activities bringing awareness to the school including Administration, reached out to their local Youth Group at High Desert Church bringing awareness to hundreds of their peers, held interviews promoting their goals in the Mountain Progress Newspaper and connected with their School Board with news of their peer-led Teen Safe Driving contest.

YAC participants in California will have an opportunity to influence others by establishing a diverse volunteer body to oversee this project and other programs with their peers. Meetings will be held every first Thursday of the month (Skype in meeting, phone conference call) with students all over California. Meetings will include educational curriculum and volunteer experiences to increase the capacity of individual members to develop, lead, and participate in youth-led empowerment projects.

For More Information:
Email Gail, call 916.438.3381 or visit www.safetycenter.org

Slips, Trips & Falls

From the United States Department of Labor: Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)

Potential Hazard
Employee exposure to wet floors or spills and clutter that can lead to slips/trips/falls and other possible injuries.

Possible Solutions

  • Keep floors clean and dry [29 CFR 1910.22(a)(2)]. In addition to being a slip hazard, continually wet surfaces promote the growth of mold, fungi, bacteria, that can cause infections.
  • Provide warning signs for wet floor areas [29 CFR 1910.145(c)(2)].
  • Where wet processes are used, maintain drainage and provide false floors, platforms, mats, or other dry standing places where practicable, or provide appropriate waterproof footgear [29 CFR 1910.141(a)(3)(ii)].
  • Walking/Working Surfaces Standard requires [29 CFR 1910.22(a)(1)]: Keep all places of employment clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition.
  • Keep aisles and passageways clear and in good repair, with no obstruction across or in aisles that could create a hazard [29 CFR 1910.22(b)(1)]. Provide floor plugs for equipment, so power cords need not run across pathways.
  • Keep exits free from obstruction. Access to exits must remain clear of obstructions at all times [29 CFR 1910.36(b)(4)].
  • Other Recommended Good Work Practices:

  • Ensure spills are reported and cleaned up immediately.
  • Use no-skid waxes and surfaces coated with grit to create non-slip surfaces in slippery areas such as toilet and shower areas.
  • Use waterproof footgear to decrease slip/fall hazards.
  • Use only properly maintained ladders to reach items. Do not use stools, chairs, or boxes as substitutes for ladders.
  • Re-lay or stretch carpets that bulge or have become bunched to prevent tripping hazards.
  • Aisles and passageways should be sufficiently wide for easy movement and should be kept clear at all times. Temporary electrical cords that cross aisles should be taped or anchored to the floor.
  • Eliminate cluttered or obstructed work areas.
  • Nurses station countertops or medication carts should be free of sharp, square corners.
  • Use prudent housekeeping procedures such as cleaning only one side of a passageway at a time, and provide good lighting for all halls and stairwells, to help reduce accidents.
  • Provide adequate lighting especially during night hours. You can use flashlights or low-level lighting when entering patient rooms.
  • Instruct workers to use the handrail on stairs, to avoid undue speed, and to maintain an unobstructed view of the stairs ahead of them even if that means requesting help to manage a bulky load.
  • Eliminate uneven floor surfaces.
  • Promote safe work in cramped working spaces. Avoid awkward positions, and use equipment that makes lifts less awkward.
  • Additional Information:

  • Walking/Working Surfaces. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.
  • 29 CFR 1910.22, General Requirements (Walking/Working Surfaces). OSHA Standard.
  • Small Business Handbook. OSHA Publication 2209-02R, (2005). Also available as a 260 KB PDF, 56 pages.
  • For more information from OSHA, visit their website at www.osha.gov.

    Assemblyman Proposes New Limits On Cellphone Use While Driving

    Assemblyman Bill Quirk has proposed new limits on cellphone use while driving and in CBS’s report on this proposal, they included an interview with Safety Center’s own Gail Kelly, Senior Vice President of Community Programs.

    Gail: “Doing anything that takes your eyes off the road, it creates a situation where you get inattention blindness. That means that 50% of what’s going around you, you’re not even seeing.”

    The most recent bill related to cellphone use while driving was passed in 2008, the Wireless Communications Device Law (effective January 2009) stating that NO DRIVER in California may write, send, or read text messages while behind the wheel. The Handheld Wireless Telphone Laws (effective July 2008) also state that 1) California drivers may NOT use a wireless telephone while driving at any time unless to make an emergency call to 911, law enforcement, or similar services and 2) drivers MAY utilize a “hands-free device” UNLESS they are under 18 years old.

    The new assembly bill AB 1785 would not allow drivers to do anything with their smartphones while driving, unless the phone is out of their hands, mounted on the car dashboard or console.

    Final Rule Issued to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries & Illnesses

    From the United States Department of Labor: Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)

    Provisions call for employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that they already record

    Why is OSHA issuing this rule?
    This simple change in OSHA’s rule-making requirements will improve safety for workers across the country. One important reason stems from our understanding of human behavior and motivation. Behavioral economics tells us that making injury information publicly available will “nudge” employers to focus on safety. And, as we have seen in many examples, more attention to safety will save the lives and limbs of many workers, and will ultimately help the employer’s bottom line as well. Finally, this regulation will improve the accuracy of this data by ensuring that workers will not fear retaliation for reporting injuries or illnesses.

    What does the rule require?
    The new rule, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2017, requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that they are already required to record on their onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms. Analysis of this data will enable OSHA to use its enforcement and compliance assistance resources more efficiently. Some of the data will also be posted to the OSHA website. OSHA believes that public disclosure will encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customers, researchers and the general public. The amount of data submitted will vary depending on the size of company and type of industry.

    Anti-retaliation protections
    The rule also prohibits employers from discouraging workers from reporting an injury or illness. The final rule requires employers to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation; clarifies the existing implicit requirement that any employer’s procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illness must be reasonable and not deter or discourage employees from reporting; and incorporates the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illness. These provisions become effective August 10, 2016.

    Compliance schedule
    The new reporting requirements will be phased in over two years:

    Establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017. These same employers will be required to submit information from all 2017 forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

    Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and their 2017 Form 300A by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

    OSHA State Plan states must adopt requirements that are substantially identical to the requirements in this final rule within six months after publication of this final rule.

    For more information from OSHA, visit their website at www.osha.gov.

    Incentive Programs

    A Safety Management Approach

    Bob Lapidus, CSP, CSMS

    I believe the main reason the labor unions and OSHA are against the use of result-oriented incentive programs, such as giving a reward for not having any injuries, is because such programs can be an inducement not to report an actual injury. In some cases, the award is so terrific employees hide their injuries to get the award. In other cases, the peer pressure from other employees is so strong, employees refuse to take the hassle given by their fellow employees so everyone can receive the positive prize.

    This reasoning makes sense. Yet I have seen result-oriented incentives do an excellent job of reducing fraudulent injuries that are being reported and causing workers’ compensation losses go sky high. At one of my client’s operations, they had their own air conditioned health clinic. The work was strenuous and most of it was conducted outside in hot and humid surroundings. To get out of the hot environment, employees claimed a variety of ailments and injuries just to go to the cool health clinic. Not having injuries and incorporating family involvement in the reward program was a significant incentive not to report problems that were not really problems.

    On the other hand, this organization’s tremendous reduction in workers’ compensation of over $500,000 in one year was also a result of a variety of activity-oriented incentives. Management used behavior reinforcement. They knew that negative consequences built negative attitudes and behaviors whereby positive consequences built positive attitudes and behaviors. For example, the assistant human resources director would walk around the site catching employees working in a safe manner and giving out safety-related gifts in recognition for such positive activities.

    A colleague of mine would catch people doing something right, take their picture, post the picture on the safety bulletin board, and then monthly conduct a drawing where winning employees would receive the actual camera.

    Other similar activity-related incentive programs included getting safety recognition for knowing the weekly slogan, developing safe procedures, creating safe work environments, and making positive safety suggestions.

    We learned that the major obstacle for incentive programs to work was and still is uncorrected actual or perceived safety problems in the work environment. Where employees knew management was not providing a safe work environment, the implementation of incentive programs actually hurt the safety program because employees felt that management was covering up safety problems.

    Implementing positive activity-based incentive programs in an organization where a strong safety program already exists can enhance the overall safety effort and make employees feel good about their work and what they do.

    For More Information:
    To become part of discussions on topics like the one above, go to www.safetycenter.org to obtain information about Safety Center’s Safety Management Specialist Certificate.

    After completing this nine-day program, graduates may take the exam to achieve the Certified Safety Management Specialist (CSMS) designation. Recipients of the CSMS receive a beautiful plaque and become part of an elite group of safety specialists who have achieved this recognition. Once this certification is attained, successful candidates keep it for the rest of their lives without any additional requirements or fees.

    Choose Life

    A Safety Management Approach

    Bob Lapidus, CSP, CSMS

    Ever since I was a child, I believed that safety belts were life-saving devices to be worn when riding in a vehicle. I even asked my dad to install them in our 1958 Chevrolet, a car that did not require seat belts. He did.

    Years later, as a safety professional, I put a license plate holder around my vehicle’s rear license plate that stated:

    Buckle Up

    Life’s Precious

    I would watch people drive up behind me and put their seatbelts on. That made me feel real good.

    I then began to see Budget Rent-A-Car vehicles with the same license plate holder with Life’s Precious put in quotes. Someone must have seen my holder and thought it was a good message. That also made me feel good.

    Life’s Precious. Within the safety profession, it ought to be the mission of everything we do. Sure, we have to comply with governmental safety regulations, but even those standards have at their core, the purpose to prevent accidents, mitigate loss, and save lives.

    Going beyond the minimum regulations brings us to the point of establishing good safety practices that offer our managers, supervisors and employees the opportunity to do everything in their power to work safely, wear the needed personal protective equipment, use the right equipment, and implement the policies, procedures, and training that have been given to them.

    If all of us believe that life is truly precious, we would not take shortcuts. We would follow the directions for using the various pieces of equipment on the job. We would seek to maintain our focus on the work we are doing and try to avoid being distracted.

    Can you take this slogan, this mission, and use it in your work? Can you transmit to your people the life’s precious message? Can you convey the importance of making sure that correct safety performance matters on a moment to moment basis? In a split second, an error, a distraction, the failure to do what is right, can lead to a severe injury, even a death.

    Embedding life’s precious into the psyche of each and every one of your people will enhance morale and raise your safety efforts from a have to effort to a want to effort. Putting the health and safety of everyone up front, both on- and off-the-job would do wonders for your safety efforts. It would show everyone that you choose life for them.

    For More Information:
    To become part of discussions on topics like the one above, go to www.safetycenter.org to obtain information about Safety Center’s Safety Management Specialist Certificate.

    After completing this nine-day program, graduates may take the exam to achieve the Certified Safety Management Specialist (CSMS) designation. Recipients of the CSMS receive a beautiful plaque and become part of an elite group of safety specialists who have achieved this recognition. Once this certification is attained, successful candidates keep it for the rest of their lives without any additional requirements or fees.

    On Board with Technology: Drones

    Special Report from United Contractors Magazine

    Construction companies large and small that are not already on the technology bandwagon need to climb aboard as the future brings more work, longer backlogs and a continued shortage of skilled labor.

    Read on to find out what Construction Executive’s panel of experts identified as key technologies to keep contractors working smarter and efficiently this year, and beyond.

    Just as drones are gaining popularity among consumers, Dan Conery, Newforma’s vice president of business development, predicts, “Drones will be used in construction for visual inspections of dangerous or difficult places for humans to reach, such as bridge undersides and curtain walls.”

    Other experts agree. However, recent developments suggest that you might want to rethink a new strategy involving Drones, as the FAA has strict guidelines.

    Operation of drones in densely populated areas (Class B airspace for example) is forbidden by the FAA without their prior approval. This rules-out most of the anticipated Drone use for construction projects.

    “Future” Contractors’ Options

    • FAA has issued a “notice of proposed rulemaking”
      • Final Rules will come out in next 12-18 months. (These rules could either broaden or narrow current status.)

    “Current Contractors’ Options (for projects “not near populated areas”)

    • Contractor can hire a 3rd Party to operate a drone on the Contractor’s behalf
      • 3rd Party must have a licensed pilot operating drone and be FAA authorized
      • Obtain General Liability and Aircraft Liability Insurance from 3rd Party
    • If the Contractor does not want to go outside of company, they must:
      • Obtain an Operational Authority Exemption under Section 333 of the FAA (approximately 2,100 exemptions granted to date)
      • Contractor must use an employee who is a licensed pilot to operate the drone

    FAA Section 333 Exemption Application Process
    1. Contractor is required to apply for exemption 120 days in advance of when the Exemption is requested.
    2. Currently takes 6-8 weeks for application to load into FAA application system
    3. Therefore it could be a 6 month wait for exemption

    Useful Links

    “To ensure the health and safety of workers, wearable technologies will become more popular,” notes Conery. “Wearables can relay vital signs for people on remote or dangerous jobsites, alert supervisors if a diabetic’s blood sugar drops or heart rate accelerates, and enable injured workers in remote locations to signal for help.” Conery also predicts robotics will gain a foothold. “By robotics, think 3-D printing, with people or other machines feeding the bricks and mortar while a robot erects the wall.”

    Steve Cowan, president of Jonas Construction Software, thinks using behavioral technology with wearable devices that track historical activities will increase productivity. “We expect more intelligence from technology and guidance in showing how to best perform work. People will expect their activities to be tracked and leveraged to work better and smarter.”

    By Marla McIntyre for Construction Executive and
    Tyler Kannon of Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers of California, Inc./Gallagher Construction Services, a UCON Member since 1977, www.ajg.com