PaintSquare.com
Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram Visit the TPC Store
Search the site

 

Coatings Industry News

Main News Page


Employers Unite Against Silica Rule

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Comment | More

Construction employers have rushed to mobilize against a new federal proposal to limit worker exposure to crystalline silica, ensuring a showdown with unions over the controversial measure.

Just days after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released its long-delayed Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica, a new coalition of construction groups representing employers emerged to fight the rule. Labor and other supporters of the rule are being equally vocal.

The 11 building and contracting associations that have formed the Construction Industry Safety Coalition say their goal is "to encourage OSHA to develop better choices for compliance with the construction-specific silica rule: alternatives that also address costs, consistency with existing federal regulations, and do not overly burden small businesses."

The group, notably, does not include the asphalt industry, which says it is prepared to meet the requirements of the proposal, which has been submitted for publication in the Federal Register.

Silica
NJ Department of Health via OSHA

More than 640,000 American workers are exposed to excessive levels of respirable crystalline silica, according to OSHA. The current permissible limits are 40 years old.

Meanwhile, labor unions are calling for swift action to finalize what they call a "long overdue" rule.

New Rules

The proposed rules—one for general industry and maritime employment, and one for construction—would update 40-year-old Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) on silica. The proposal also details methods for controlling worker exposure, conducting medical surveillance, training workers about silica-related hazards, and recordkeeping.

The rule will be felt throughout the coatings, construction and abrasive blasting industries. Indeed, the death of a painter and blaster from silicosis figures prominently in a new OSHA video, "Deadly Dust," produced to support the silica proposal.

Workers are exposed to airborne respirable silica dust particles through cutting, sawing, drilling and crushing of concrete, brick, block and other stone products and in operations using sand products, such as in glass manufacturing, foundries and abrasive blasting.

Bill Ellis
"Deadly Dust"

A new OSHA video about silica features the story of Bill Ellis, a painter and blaster who died of silicosis from occupational exposure to the mineral.

More than two million American workers are currently exposed to respirable crystalline silica, according to OSHA. More than 640,000 are believed to be exposed at levels that exceed the current PELs, the agency says.

Employer Opposition

The Construction Industry Safety Coalition represents thousands of employers in home building, road repair, heavy industrial production, specialty trades and materials supply.

The American Coatings Association, which represents manufacturers, was not part of the initial coalition and has not issued a statement on the silica proposal.

The Safety Coalition says the proposed rules will cost the construction industry $1 billion a year and is calling for a "feasible and cost-effective" alternative.

“We need practical, science-based solutions that protect workers in all facets of construction,” said Rick Judson, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), an association member of the coalition.

Rick Judson E. Colette Nelson
NAHB (left); Twitter

NAHB chairman Rick Judson says the current silica proposal is impractical. The ASA's E. Colette Nelson says the plan will affect tens of thousands of specialty trade contractors.

“Unfortunately, OSHA’s initial announcement about this proposed rule indicates we aren’t there yet,” Judson said in an announcement.

Subcontractors Speak Out

The American Subcontractors Association, another coalition member, has also assailed the proposal as "confusing and burdensome."

“OSHA’s proposed rule runs 577 pages and details the steps that tens of thousands of specialty trade contractors will have to follow in order to be in compliance,” ASA Chief Advocacy Officer E. Colette Nelson said in a statement.

ASA has developed a Special Report on the OSHA Proposed Rule on Crystalline Silica for its members.

In addition to NAHB and ASA, the coalition is composed of:

  • Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC);
  • Associated General Contractors of America (AGC);
  • Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry (AWCI);
  • American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA);
  • International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (ICE);
  • Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA);
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCA);
  • National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA); and
  • National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA).

Asphalt Industry is Ready

One group that has long prepared for the silica proposal is the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), which has nearly 1,200 member companies. In a statement issued last week, the association said the asphalt industry was "positioned to meet the new standard."

NAPA
NAPA

The National Asphalt Pavement Association says it has been working for a decade to prepare for the rule and has devised simple equipment retrofits to meet the new limits.

The group notes that silica is a "known carcinogen" and says it has been partnering for a decade with milling machine manufacturers, labor, academia and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to reduce silica exposure.

The asphalt group says its Silica/Milling Machine Partnership has identified "simple retrofits for existing milling machines that effectively reduce potential silica exposure below OSHA’s new proposed PEL."

NAPA says it will offer suggestions during the public comment process on the proposal "to help better calibrate the rule to the industry's exposure potential."

"The Partnership is committed to doing the best work possible to ensure that workers are safe and that any silica exposure is reduced to the absolutely lowest level possible," said partnership chairman Tony Bodway, of Wisconsin-based Payne & Dolan Inc.

Labor: Fast Action Needed

Labor unions, meanwhile, call the proposed rule long overdue and are ready to fight for it.

The AFL-CIO, representing 57 unions and 12 million members, says a final silica rule "should be issued as fast as humanly possible, to protect the health and lives of American workers."

The union says 7,000 American workers develop silicosis each year and 200 die from the disease.

Richard Trumka Sean McGarvey
BCTD (left); AFL-CIO

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (left) says his unions "will do everything we can" to move the rule forward. The Building and Construction Trades Department, led by president Sean McGarvey (right), sounded equally resolute.

"Workers exposed to silica dust will only be protected when a final rule is issued," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement.

He added: "Some industry groups are certain to attack the rule and try to stop it in its tracks. The AFL-CIO will do everything we can to see that this does not happen."

The two-million-member Building and Construction Trades Department, an alliance of 13 national and international unions, also voiced strong support.

statement by BCT called the release of the proposed rule "welcome news to the millions of workers at risk of exposure to dangerous levels of silica dust, those who already suffer from illnesses due to past exposures, and the families who have lost loved ones to silica-related illnesses."

   

Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; American Subcontractors Association (ASA); Asphalt; Certifications and standards; Construction; Fatalities; Health and safety; Labor; National Association of Home Builders (NAHB); OSHA; Painting Contractor; Respirators; Roads/Highways; Silica; Workers

Comment from William Gusnard, (9/4/2013, 8:42 AM)

I work in the Power industry, and one of the main chemicals used in mercury removal is hydrated lime. It meets the current PEL for crystalline but it fails dramatically under the new proposed rules. The government has imposed these new regulations that are going the adversely affect other regulsations. My question is (even though I agree with the new regulations) is this, do the various regulation industries even talk to each other about their various proposals?


Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Advertisements
 
SAFE Systems, Inc.
 
Enduroguard -
The Tough Cable
for a Tough Industry.
 
Reduce maintenance costs and down time, increase job site safety with Enduroguard Cable. Available exclusively from SAFE Systems. UL listed, flexible, abrasion resistant and cut resistant.
 

 
Detail Masters
 
Overspray Removal
 
We offer professional, turnkey service and unparalleled quality!
Our process can save hundreds— even thousands of dollars. It's fast, environmentally safe and 100% guaranteed.
 

 
Waterjet Technology Association (WJTA)
 
Click to register today!
 
See the latest automated and handheld UHP waterblasting tools/systems/products. Exhibits, live demos, educational sessions, waterjet short course, networking.
 

 
SABRE Autonomous Solutions
 
Safety
 
Removing blasting operators from harmful environments is our key objective.
 

 
US Minerals
 
Hit Harder. Clean Faster.
 
Black Diamond abrasive products are the toughest, most effective blasting media and supply the superior power you need to get any job done.
 

 
Clemco Industries Corp.
 
Maximum Dust Suppression Systems Start at $14,950
 
The system comprises proven technology and equipment with user-friendly flexibility in mind. See it in action.
 

 
Modern Safety Techniques
 
Modern Safety Techniques
 
With our unique LTCat, we can help to provide clean, safe breathing air to your workers. Take a look at our Breathing Air Systems, we supply at least twice as much charcoal as our competitors! Modern
 

 
Abrasives Inc.
 
Discover the MAGIC.
 
Black Magic® coal slag. It’s consistent, cleaner, cuts better, less dust. Get it where you need it, when you need it. Abrasives Inc. info@abrasivesinc.com
 

 
Novatek Corporation
 
Novatek Corporation, Dustless Coatings Removal
 
Strip, clean and profile all dust free! Comply with new lead standards. Contact today: (866) 563-7800
 

 
Blastox/The TDJ Group, Inc.
 
Blastox® - One Step Lead Abatement
 
Sandblast additive delivered to jobsite pre-blended to eliminate hazardous abrasive wastes. Why mix, meter or apply at the job-site? Blast with ease and
Let your painters paint!
1(800)-252-7869
 

 
 
 

Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL webmaster@paintsquare.com


The Technology Publishing Network

Durability + Design PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

 
EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About PaintSquare.com   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us