OSHA delays Obama silica safety standard for construction industry

Getting a letter from OSHA that your company is being investigated for a health or safety violation is an unwanted disruption to your business that could lead to a hefty monetary fine.

That’s why we think that construction companies and others should continue to prepare for the enforcement of OSHA’s crystalline silica standard – despite a decision earlier this year to delay enforcement from June until September.

The rule was finalized in March 2016. OSHA, in explaining the delay, said it determined that “additional guidance (was) necessary due to the unique nature of the requirements in the construction standard.”

The rule is meant to protect workers against occupational exposure to crystalline silica, a carcinogenic dust often found in construction, foundries and fracking. The rule lowers the exposure limit for silica dust for the first time since 1971 and requires employers to monitor silica in the workplace and take steps to reduce exposure.

Industry groups have sued to stop the rule. They maintain that limitations in measuring silica levels make it impossible for them to comply with the new standards.

The silica standard is one of several Labor Department rules Republicans and the Trump administration have targeted for repeal. Others include a rule extending overtime pay to more workers.

Despite the delay in enforcement, however, companies already have been fined by OSHA for alleged lapses. The point is that OSHA expects your company to implement processes to ensure compliance by the new start date – and so waiting to see what happens just isn’t a great idea.

About the Author

Will Temby

Will has enjoyed a 20-year career in leadership positions in the hospitality and travel industry throughout the U.S. with the Hyatt, Sheraton, Hilton, Renaissance and Steamboat Ski and Resort corporations. Will received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. From 2000-2007, he served as President and CEO of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. He also served as Vice President-Special Projects for the University of Colorado Foundation from 2007 to 2009. Will is a past Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Homeland Defense Foundation and former member of the United States Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100. He is married to Nan, has five wonderful children, and enjoys coaching, traveling, hiking, golfing and skiing.