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April 19th, 2018

OSHA Increases Fines for Silica Violations

Effective January 2, 2018, Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) increased its daily fines for silica violations to $12,934.  Willful or repeated violations will now pay a $129,336 penalty.

OSHA’s Respirable Crystalline Silica standard for construction sites requires employers to limit exposure and take other steps to protect workers.

Breathing in very small (“respirable”) crystalline silica particles causes multiple diseases, including silicosis, an incurable lung disease that leads to disability and death. Respirable crystalline silica also causes lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease.

All construction employers covered by the standard are required to:

  • Establish and implement a written exposure control plan that identifies tasks that involve exposure and methods used to protect workers, including procedures to restrict access to work areas where high exposures may occur.
  • Designate a competent person to implement the written exposure control plan.
  • Restrict housekeeping practices that expose workers to silica where feasible alternatives are available.
  • Offer medical exams-including chest X-rays and lung function tests-every three years for workers who are required by the standard to wear a respirator for 30 or more days per year.
  • Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure.
  • Keep records of exposure measurements, objective data, and medical exams.

OSHA has released several Fact Sheets for how construction companies can limit exposure to silica dust depending on what equipment is being used (eg: handheld power saws, vehicle-mounted drilling rigs, heavy equipment and utility vehicles used during demolition activities, etc).

Gabriel can assist companies in creating a written exposure control plan, as well as perform silica dust testing and reporting.  Contact Bill Gray, Senior Vice President, at bgray{at}gabenv.com with any questions or for a proposal.

More information about the changes can be found on the OSHA website.