OSEA Safety Blog

Upcoming OSHA Compliance Deadlines

Thursday, May 18, 2017 Greg Santo

Upcoming OSHA Compliance Dates

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has updated several standards that business and industry need to be aware of. These include:

  1. Walking and Working Surfaces – Training was supposed to be completed by May 17, 2017 and some state plans states, like North Carolina, have delayed the requirement to September 17, 2017.

The rule requires employers to protect workers from fall hazards along unprotected sides or edges that are at least 4 feet above a lower level. It also sets requirements for fall protection in specific situations, such as hoist areas, runways, areas above dangerous equipment, wall openings, repair pits, stairways, scaffolds, and slaughtering platforms. And it establishes requirements for the performance, inspection, use, and maintenance of personal fall protection systems. OSHA defines fall protection as “any equipment, device, or system that prevents a worker from falling from an elevation or mitigates the effect of such a fall.” Under the final rule, employers may choose from the following fall protection options:

  1. Guardrail System – A barrier erected along an unprotected or exposed side, edge, or other area of a walking-working surface to prevent workers from falling to a lower level.
  2. Safety Net System – A horizontal or semi-horizontal, cantilever-style barrier that uses a netting system to stop falling workers before they contact a lower level or obstruction.
  3. Personal Fall Arrest System – A system that arrests/stops a fall before the worker contacts a lower level. Consists of a body harness, anchorage, and connector, and may include a lanyard, deceleration device, lifeline, or a suitable combination. Like OSHA’s construction standards, the final rule prohibits the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system.

OSEA has developed a four-hour training program updating walking and working surfaces that includes training to the new fall protection standards. Call for training.

  1. Beryllium -- Beryllium is a strong, lightweight metal used in the aerospace, electronics, energy, telecommunication, medical and defense industries. However, it is highly toxic when beryllium-containing materials are processed in a way that releases airborne beryllium dust, fume, or mist into the workplace air that can be then inhaled by workers, potentially damaging their lungs. The final rule will reduce the eight-hour permissible exposure limit from the previous level of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter (µm/m3) to 0.2 µm/m3. Above that level, employers must take steps to reduce the airborne concentration of beryllium. The rule, effective May 20, 2017, requires additional protections, including personal protective equipment, medical exams, other medical surveillance and training, as well. It also establishes a short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 2.0 µm/m3 over a 15-minute sampling period.

OSEA has industrial hygienists that can collect a full shift sampling to determine compliance with the permissible exposure limit (PEL) as well as the STEL. Please call for pricing.

  1. Crystalline Silica –

The proposed standard for construction, effective September 23, 2017, includes provisions for employers to:

  • Measure the amount of silica that workers are exposed to if it may be at or above an action level of 25 μg/m3(micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air), averaged over an 8-hour day;
  • Protect workers from respirable crystalline silica exposures above the PEL of 50 μg/m3, averaged over an 8-hour day;
  • Limit workers' access to areas where they could be exposed above the PEL
  • Use dust controls to protect workers from silica exposures above the PEL;
  • Provide respirators to workers when dust controls cannot limit exposures to the PEL
  • Offer medical exams-including chest X-rays and lung function tests-every three years for workers exposed above the PEL for 30 or more days per year;
  • Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure; and
  • Keep records of workers' silica exposure and medical exams.
  • The standard provides flexible alternatives, especially useful for small employers. Employers can choose to measure their workers' exposure to silica and independently decide which dust controls work best in their workplaces. Alternately, employers can simply use a control method laid out in Table 1 of the proposed construction standard.
  • Table 1 matches common construction tasks with dust control methods that can be used to limit worker exposures to silica, so employers know exactly what they need to do for every job and every worker. The dust control measures listed in the table include methods that are known to be effective, like using water to keep dust from getting into the air or using ventilation to capture dust. In some operations, respirators may also be needed. If an employer chooses to use a method in Table 1, they would not need to measure workers' exposure to crystalline silica.

OSEA offers a 4-hour Competent Person Training Class for Crystalline Silica Exposure. Please call for pricing and scheduling information.

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