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What is the Future of OSH Holding: 3 Big Trends for the Construction Industry

Dec 6, 17 • Safety

What is the Future of OSH Holding: 3 Big Trends for the Construction Industry

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By Vincent West

With pending regulations undergoing re-reviews and new restrictions on operating standards looming, it’s a poor time to be uninformed in the construction industry. There’s plenty to be said for upcoming changes to your local job site, so if you feel you haven’t been keeping up to date with big changes that might directly impact your workplace, you’ve come to the right place.

If you have been keeping up with recent news, you’d still be wise to read on about fines and punishment further down the list, especially if you feel you might have a health and safety fine that could make or break your budget this year. You might just find an unusual method of getting a financial break if you play your cards right!

Silica and You: Upcoming Silica Regulation Changes

This isn’t a new development by any stretch of the imagination. Originally proposed back in 2013, silica dust has caught a rather nasty comparison to asbestos exposure in relation to construction worker deaths and its effects on the human body. At best, exposure to such a fine dust can be irritating and difficult to work with, but a worst-case scenario tells a tale of silicosis, a potentially fatal scarring of the lungs caused by repeated or serious exposure to silica dust.

Even though individual airborne particles of silica may be finer than sand, the damage they can do to unprotected workers is severe enough that it spurred OSHA to action, leading to new guidelines under effect as of a few scant days from this time of writing.

If your crew’s work produces a measurable amount of silica dust from its daily operations there are a bevy of new guidelines to work under. Wet saws, proper ventilation and breathing protection and even a written guide on how your company plans to avoid silica dust exposure and a chosen method to control it may be in your future, as each company will be expected to assign someone specifically to the task of handling exposure.

Criticism is already rolling in under a barrage of comments, several of which focus on the feasibility of gathering proper silica dust readings and the extent of work that may be required to handle this new threat.

Is it worth all the fuss? Considering the damage done by asbestos in the past century and its lingering effects on those who came in contact with it, it’s hard to imagine letting its cousin in spirit continue to be produced wholly unchecked.

Crane Regulations Are Still up in the Air

Implementation for updated crane operator regulations were set to go into effect way back in 2014, but there’s a chance they won’t see the light of day until Nov. 2018 at the earliest.

While not as much a pressing issue for smaller construction crews, larger operations may face a stricter series of guidelines for handling operations in areas with excess wind, up to and including the disallowed use of cranes in areas with winds over thirty miles per hour.

Financial concerns may follow as advisory boards have suggested outfitting cranes with new equipment to better track speed of operation and local weather conditions, while older crane models may be phased out of the workplace entirely.

Accident Forgiveness May Have Unseen Costs

If you’ve been cited over a workplace OSHA violation lately, there is yet hope: up to half of contested citations receive a discount. The catch? You may have to spend a little extra money tightening up other workplace issues to make up for the fine you’d be paying otherwise.

While this may sound counterproductive, the ideals behind reducing fines in the construction industry in exchange for work site redesign are fairly sound: If you reduce the risk of future accidents, you’ll likely save more lives than through fine-related punishment. It’s not unusual for larger business to consider an OSHA fine to just be another cost of operation. It’s just another unfortunate truth in a business where costs can be so high that a fine in the thousands of dollars just isn’t worth fighting over.

Finding a way out of a fine may not be that simple, however, as only half of those contested fines averaged out to a reduced amount, but you can play it safe and ensure employees are properly trained and your site is up to snuff via regulation training and seminars with a focus on reducing the likelihood of workplace tragedy.

Conclusion

Until the construction industry settles down again and regulations move into place, ensure you keep up with looming regulation changes as they happen. With OSHA doling out fines in the thousands of dollars over silica dust exposure as rates of silicosis in construction workers continue to rise, being caught unprepared is an easy way to lose a chunk of operating funds as 2018 approaches.

Author Bio: Vincent West is a guest blogger and a Work Boot Critic contributing author. He has a high interest in everything related to the construction industry, especially in occupational health and safety.