OSHA/Safety Issues

Silica

2019

On August 15, 2019 OSHA took the first step in reopening the silica rule by issuing a Request for Information (RFI) seeking comment and data that could assist the agency in assessing whether revisions to the silica standard are needed. Specifically, OSHA requested feedback on additional dust control methods not currently included for tasks and equipment listed on Table 1, as well as additional tasks or equipment that are not currently included on Table 1 that could be added.

The CISC supports OSHA issuing this RFI and encourages OSHA to move quickly with rulemaking to permit contractors additional compliance options and tools.

2018

On August 13, 2018, OSHA released a set of 53 frequently asked questions – and their answers – to provide guidance to employers and employees on its respirable crystalline silica standard for construction. The CISC was an important contributor to the formulation of this FAQ and their development stemmed from litigation filed against OSHA in 2016 by CISC members challenging the legality of the new silica rule.

2016

On March 25, 2016 OSHA issued the final silica rule for construction. The new rule reduces the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour shift, and requires employers to use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) and work practices to limit worker exposure, provide respiratory protection when controls are not able to limit exposures to the permissible level, limit access to high-exposure areas, train workers, and provide medical exams to highly exposed workers.

2013

On September 12, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a proposed rule on Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica. CISC membership has been an active participant throughout the rulemaking process by submitting written comments and testifying at the public hearing.  CISC believes OSHA has not met its burden of demonstrating that the proposal is technologically and economically feasible.

CISC shares OSHA’s desire to ensure that all workers are protected from unsafe levels of silica exposure and illnesses that it creates. Our organizations and their respective members encourage OSHA to work with the construction industry to ensure the positive reduction in silicosis-related diseases and fatalities continue.

For more information on the rulemaking:

Beryllium

2019

On October 8, 2019 OSHA issued a new proposed standard for occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds in the construction.  The CISC believes strongly that a comprehensive standard regulating beryllium exposure in construction is unnecessary from a safety and health standpoint and would impose unnecessary burdens on construction contractors.

The CISC believes OSHA has not presented substantial evidence demonstrating the need to lower the permissible exposure limit (“PEL”) for beryllium in construction, adopt a lower short term exposure limit (“STEL”), or to justify various ancillary provisions.

2017

On June 27, 2017, OSHA issued a proposed rule to revoke and remove the ancillary provisions for the construction and the shipyard sectors that OSHA adopted on January 9, 2017 but retain the new lower PEL  and the short-term exposure limit (STEL).  The CISC believes the rulemaking record does not support a need for a reduced PEL and the addition of a STEL in construction. In addition, the CISC believes the substantial evidence in the record does not demonstrate that a significant risk of material harm exists to construction workers as it relates to exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds, nor does the evidence show that the proposed rule will substantially reduce that risk.

Heat Stress

The House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing July 11, 2019 on legislation introduced to require OSHA to promulgate a heat exposure standard.  The CISC shares the goals of H.R. 3668 – the “Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act of 2019” – to protect employees from exposure to excess heat and to prevent heat illness from occurring in construction employees. However, the CISC has significant concerns with the approach taken in the legislation to accomplish these goals.

  • CISC Comments: CISC’s Letter for the Record,  H.R. 3668 – August 8, 2019

Powered Industrial Trucks

On March 11, 2019, OSHA issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking comment on issues related to the requirements in the standard for Powered Industrial Trucks–PITs (i.e., forklifts).  The CISC is concerned is that the types of forklifts used in construction are different than other forklifts used in a warehouse setting. Therefore, if OSHA is intent on revising the PITs rule, the agency needs to consider the distinct differences of the construction industry and any rulemaking for constructor should be pursued separately from a general industry/maritime rulemaking.

Standards Improvement Project (SIP-IV)

On October 4, 2016, proposed revisions to eighteen (18) existing standards in its recordkeeping and construction standards, focusing on removing or revising outdated, duplicative, or unnecessary requirements.  CISC maintains that the proposals contained in SIP-IV discussed above do more than simply remove or revise outdated, duplicative, unnecessary, and inconsistent OSHA standards. Instead, they represent substantive changes to the standards which impose significant new costs and burdens on employers and thus are not appropriate as part of the SIP rulemaking.

The CISC objected to certain proposed changes that were not suitable to be handled in the SIPs process, which including: 1)  a requirement that construction employers ensure that PPE properly “fits”; and 2) a requirement that would change the burden of proof for hazard identification under the construction excavation standard.  The CISC was pleased that the OSHA listened to our concerns and the agency  pulled back on these two proposed requirements in the final rule and did not include them, choosing to conduct a formal rulemaking at a later time for these issues.

  • Final Rule: Published in the Federal Register – May 14, 2019

Chemical Management and PELs Update

On October 10, 2014, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a request for information on Chemical Management and Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs).

CISC strongly believes that the statutory substantive and procedural requirements for rulemaking set by Congress must be followed by the Agency and that the Agency continue to provide notice and an opportunity for comment on all analytical issues and approaches OSHA takes to regulate hazardous chemicals and the CISC believes that OSHA must continue to consider construction separately from general industry and maritime given the unique and variable conditions on construction worksites.