ABC and members of the newly formed Construction Industry Safety Coalition, a group of national construction industry trade associations, expressed concern over a proposal from OSHA addressing crystalline silica exposure in the construction industry.
On Aug. 23, OSHA proposed drastically lowering the existing permissible exposure limit (PEL) for silica, prescribed control methods that contradict existing safety practice, and mandated new recordkeeping and training requirements. Independent studies have estimated compliance with similar provisions to cost $1 billion to $2 billion per year.
“OSHA still has not explained how a lowered PEL will be effective at reducing the number of silica-related illnesses, particularly when the agency has admitted its failure to properly enforce the existing standard,” said ABC Vice President of Government Affairs Geoff Burr. “The agency clearly missed an opportunity to take a cost-effective approach while still improving compliance and worker safety.”
The Construction Industry Safety Coalition is urging OSHA to develop technologically feasible alternatives for compliance with a silica rule that address costs and consistency with existing federal regulations and do not overly burden small businesses. In addition, the coalition said the agency should consider factors unique to construction, as industry-specific tasks and activities are highly variable and change constantly as projects progress.
“ABC and our coalition partners are reviewing OSHA’s proposal, and we look forward to the opportunity to express our concerns fully at the appropriate time,” Burr added.
The coalition represents associations from all sectors of the construction industry, including commercial building, heavy industrial production, home building, road repair, specialty trade contractors and material suppliers. Workplace safety and health is a priority for all members of the coalition, and each is committed to helping create safer construction jobsites for workers.