Tag Archive for OSHA

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.

January 21st, 2016

Loud workplaces causing hearing loss, lower productivity

OSHA estimates that 30 million people in the US are exposed to sound_levels_smallhazardous noise levels at their workplaces each year. Since 2004, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that nearly 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss.

A recent study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests that long-term exposure to excessive noise may lead to increased risk for heart disease.  Past research also linked noise exposure to coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and other illnesses.

For businesses, excessive noise can lead to lower productivity, reduced communication and concentration, and more workplace accidents and injuries.

How do you know if your workplace is too loud?

  • You hear ringing or humming in your ears when you leave work.
  • You have to shout to be heard by a coworker an arm’s length away
  • You experience temporary hearing loss when you leave work

OSHA sets legal limits on noise exposure, based on an 8 hour day.  For most workplaces, the OSHA permissible exposure limit is 85dBa (A-weighted sound levels).  For construction sites, that level is raised slightly to 90 dBa.

If you are concerned about the noise levels at your workplace, Gabriel can help you measure area sound levels and monitor noise exposure. If noise levels exceed OSHA limits, Gabriel can also help you develop an effective hearing conservation program.

Contact Steve Sawyer, CHMM at ssawyer[at]gabenv.com or 773-486-2123, or Bill Gray at bgray[at]gabenv.com or 773-617-0288, with any questions or for a quote on a noise assessment.

Visit OSHA’s website for more information on Occupational Noise Exposure.