OSHA Amends Silica Rule for First Time in 45 years

silica exposure

OSHA has updated regulations to the respirable crystalline silica standard. These changes have been anticipated for a long time: it’s being updated for the first time since 1971. This is due to a clearer understanding of the long-term health effects from inadequate protection from silica. Under the new rule, OSHA stresses the importance of implementing engineering controls and measurements within worksites to help improve employee safety and compliance.

Silica exposure affects the lives of not only workers, but their families and loved ones as well. Nearly 2.3 million workers are exposed to crystalline silica in their workplaces. OSHA estimates the updated rule will save over 600 lives and prevent up to 900 new cases of silicosis each year, as soon as its effects are fully understood (OSHA).

A major key provision of the rule is reducing the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air over an 8-hour shift.

It is crucial to equip employees with updated safeguards and the knowledge necessary to prevent silica exposure.

Changes to implement under the new standard:

Exposure control plan: Outlines methods of controlling dust within a worksite where exposure is present.
Written respiratory protection program: Organizations must implement a plan if respirators are necessary to protect workers.
Engineering controls: Wet methods, vacuum dust collection, local exhaust ventilation, substitution of less toxic materials.
Administrative controls: Limit access to hazardous areas, provide hazard communication and training on silica for employees, protect employees’ right to know and understand
Post warning signs: If working outside, block off areas directly downwind of airborne silica dust to assure unprotected workers and others are not exposed.
Housekeeping: Maintain equipment by replacing vacuum collection bags and air filters regularly, avoid sweeping and use of compressed air of dry material off surfaces and floors.
Medical Exams: Require all employees to receive a medical exam regardless of the level of exposure.

Effective Dates for Implementation
For the construction industry:
June 23, 2017
For general industry and the maritime industry:
June 23, 2018

*Industries have one to five years to adopt most requirements

Succeed Management Solutions, LLC offers a new Silica Exposure Prevention training course that outlines the potential hazards associated with working with risk of exposure to silica dust. The course includes information about the new OSHA requirements and necessary controls to apply in the workplace to keep your workers safe.

Reminder: Post OSHA 300A Summary Form by February 1st

Employers with 11 or more employees (including temporary employees) are required to post the OSHA 300A Summary form in a public area of the workplace from February 1 through April 30, 2016, for the previous year. This form is a representation of the total number of injuries and illnesses recorded for the year, as documented in the OSHA 300 Log. The OSHA 300 Log is an ongoing list of all recordable injuries, illnesses, and fatalities at an organization.

There are exempt industries that are not required to post the OSHA 300A Summary, however since January 1, 2016, OSHA has decreed that additional industries are now required to post this form. These industries include automobile dealers, bakeries, beer, wine, and liquor stores, performing arts companies, special food services, building material and supplies dealers, and more. Even if your organization is exempt, you still have to complete the forms if there has been a fatality, in-person hospitalization, amputation, or if an employee lost an eye due to a work-related incident.

The OSHA 300 forms are requested in any OSHA visit. Citations and fines may result if your organization does not comply. Regardless of OSHA, it is a best practice to keep a record of all injuries, and perform investigations to assess the root causes, at risk behaviors, and other factors that can help organizations prevent injuries.

Please use these links below for more information on the OSHA 300 log process, or to sign up for a free webinar.

View a short introductory video on the OSHA 300 logs
Sign up for a free educational webinar on the OSHA 300 log process
View the pre-recorded educational webinar

OSHA updates National Emphasis Program on amputation inspections

Lockout Tagout

In August, a new employee lost four fingers on his first day of work at a plastic molding company in Ohio. The company did not provide adequate training, nor did they report the amputation, as required by OSHA (From OSHA News Release 08/13/15). If the company had trained the employee about lockout/tagout requirements and machine hazards, the incident could have been prevented.

Amputations are among one of the most frequently cited OSHA standards. According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data, 2,000 workers suffered amputations in 2013. Data reveals that amputation injuries are being underreported, across all industries. Employers can prevent these by following proper safety precautions. In 2006, OSHA created the National Emphasis Program that focuses on industries with high rates and numbers of amputation injuries (From OSHA’s Trade News Release, 08/13/15).

OSHA has recently updated the National Emphasis Program to target organizations whose workplaces possess machinery that has a high risk of amputation hazards. OSHA is expected to carry out more inspections of employers that fit these credentials. “This directive will help ensure that employers identify and eliminate serious workplace hazards and provide safe workplaces for all workers,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. The inspections will consist of an evaluation of exposures found present during employees’ operation of machinery including: cleaning, oiling or greasing machines or machine pans; and locking out machinery to prevent accidental start-up.” (From OSHA’s Trade News Release, 08/13/15).

Succeed Management Solutions, LLC has digital library resources that focus on Lockout/Tagout procedures, including audit checklists, training shorts, quizzes, and PowerPoint presentations. They also have content that focuses on machine safeguarding, interlock guarding, light curtains, and more. Most importantly they have Lockout/Tagout and Machine Safeguarding training courses, which are comprehensive and aim to educate employees and help prevent amputation hazards.