WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced a delay in enforcement of the crystalline silica standard that applies to the construction industry to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers.
The agency has determined that additional guidance is necessary due to the unique nature of the requirements in the construction standard. Originally scheduled to begin June 23, 2017, enforcement will now begin Sept. 23, 2017.
OSHA expects employers in the construction industry to continue to take steps either to come into compliance with the new permissible exposure limit, or to implement specific dust controls for certain operations as provided in Table 1 of the standard. Construction employers should also continue to prepare to implement the standard’s other requirements, including exposure assessment, medical surveillance and employee training.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.
The Construction Industry Safety Coalition in a statement said that: “ it is pleased that OSHA has recognized the need to develop guidance material for the construction industry before enforcing the silica rule, and we remain committed to working with the agency to create a feasible standard that promotes safe and healthy jobsites. While the CISC appreciates the 90-day delay in enforcement, the CISC remains concerned about the overall feasibility of the standard in construction and has requested that the agency delay enforcement for a year.”
Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH), noted that the standard is backed by “solid scientific evidence and the experience of workers who have suffered cancer, silicosis and other life-threatening diseases. There is no reason for delaying this rule, which will save more 600 lives each year.”