OSHA has proposed some new requirements for crystalline silica dust that the concrete industry is opposed to (click here for a review of the proposed standard). We discussed the implications of this with Jim Rogers, director of the Western OSHA Education Center at Arizona State University, and Pat O’Brien, executive director of the Concrete Sawing & Drilling Association (CSDA). Rogers described what respirable silica is and why it is dangerous to workers. OSHA’s proposed new standard for construction is currently out for public comment, and he feels it is important for the concrete construction industry to clearly state its opinion in order to get something we can live with.
O’Brien has been working with the Construction Industry Safety Coalition to provide a united response to OSHA on the impact of the proposed standard. He stressed that CSDA has a long and cooperative relationship with OSHA and that safety training is an important part of CSDA’s mission. The concern about the standard is that it seems to be directed more toward permanent jobsites as opposed to construction projects where workers are moving from place to place. CSDA has clear guidelines on what level of protection is needed in various situations and O’Brien feels these have proven effective at keeping workers safe. OSHA’s new requirements would cut the permissible exposure limit in half, so the question is why is this huge change needed. The industry coalition is therefore trying to work toward something that is reasonable in the field but that still protects workers.