That’s what we’ve got left before the OSHA Respirable Silica regulation is due to be enforced by OSHA. I’m friends with a lot of contractors, and, as of now, there is still a lot of certainty on what will happen.
Here’s several of the many questions I’ve gotten in the past week or so now that we are that close to September 23rd:
- Will it be pushed back again?
- According to MCAA, likely not if the DOL has their way.
- Will Trump get rid of it?
- I’m not thinking this is something he can easily reverse.
- If it goes into effect, won’t there be a lawsuit?
- Maybe. But how long will it be before that happens and a change is made?
- Will they “open up Table 1”?
- There is still a good chance for that to happen. This would be good since masonry mixing stations are currently not included, causing quite a bit of uncertainty amongst the masonry industry.
- Will OSHA enforce this regulation heavily?
- This is something your company has to consider. My guess is that OSHA will be enforcing this at the same level they do anything else. There’s no additional funding for this to my knowledge.
- If OSHA can’t handle enforcing the regulations now, how are they going to handle this?
- Like many other regulations, this will likely be enforced more by your General Contractors, Construction Managers, and, in cases of universities and other larger projects, owners’ reps. Even if this “goes away” from a legal stand point, there’s a chance some of the regulations will stay in place in these safety programs.
- Can’t I just cut wet and be ok?
- It depends. Reference Table 1 (Download here). There are more tasks listed than just cutting with saws that create respirable silica and need to be addressed. Starting there is a good place to decide what you may need to get additional tools and/or accessories to “stay in table 1” and avoid objective testing.
- In some cases, cutting wet still requires a respirator, so water doesn’t fix everything. But I personally think it can be an easier alternative to a vacuum system.
- What tools do I need?
- Again, it depends on what you need to do. Get with your tool reps to find out which of your tools you can continue to use with proper accessories (vacuums with shrouds connecting them, for example). They should be able to help you find what you need.
- There’s an abundance of options out there, but don’t wait until 9/22 to get this because you may be out of luck at that point.
- Also, remember that your employees must be trained on how to use and properly maintain all equipment relating to this.
- How can I avoid having to do medical testing for my employees?
- Avoid using respirators (even the N-95, AKA “two-strap dust masks”) is the easy answer.
- The hard answer is to avoid tasks that require the use of a respirator. This again comes down to using Table 1 OR using objective data through either your own testing or through testing that accurately represents the task you’re doing.
The list of questions I’m being asked goes on and on.
Here are the main points you need to know:
If you haven’t already trained your employees on silica, do it. NOW. MCAA has a train the trainer course that gives your team the ability to train in-house, along with the materials you need to do so. The next class in Texas is in Dallas on October 3rd and is sponsored by Spec Rents. Register here.
Establish who your competent persons are for this. They must know the regulations in and out in order to make sure your employees are all in compliance.
- Make sure you get good information or really read and educate yourself on the regulations before you train your people or buy the wrong tools and/or accessories.
- Don’t go at this alone. Reach out to your sales reps or other contractors that have already been through the training to get the information you need.
- Make sure you’ve done your Silica Exposure Policy. If you’re a member of MCAA, you have access to their tools, which will build this for you with everything you need to meet OSHA’s standards. Create your policy NOW.
Take a deep breath. Just like other new things, we will adjust to change together. For questions about the OSHA silica standard or how you can prepare for it, feel free to contact Liz Graves.
Post by: Elizabeth "Liz" Graves, Sales Manager at Spec Rents, LLC. Contact Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org