OSHA Considering Changes to Silica Rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is requesting public feedback on the silica standard in the construction industry.

OSHA is seeking more information about multiple aspects of the rule, including:

  • additional engineering and work practice control methods to effectively limit exposure to silica for tasks in Table 1
  • construction equipment and tasks that generate silica that it should consider adding to Table 1
  • engineering and work practice control methods associated with those tasks
  • whether or not to revise paragraph (a)(3) of the General Industry Silica Standard to increase the ways in which general industry and maritime workplaces could use the construction standard’s Table 1

OSHA stated that expanding the options for companies to comply with the silica standard will give business more flexibility while still maintaining employee safety. The agency also said that submitted information will allow OSHA to “consider new developments and enhanced control methods for equipment that generates exposure to silica” and provide more data on potential silica exposure from more tasks.

Respirable crystalline silica is dangerous to workers and can potentially cause lifelong health issues. It is created when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling or crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick, block and mortar. Other exposures include abrasive blasting or manufacturing of brick or ceramic products. About 2.3 million people in the U.S. are exposed to silica at work.

Silica can cause numerous diseases including silicosis (an incurable lung disease), lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease.

According to OSHA’s news release, public comments must be submitted by October 14, 2019 online at www.regulations.gov, or by fax/mail.

At SCT, our Workplace Safety Experts, who have dozens of years of experience working for and alongside OSHA, can train your employees to properly abate any potential silica hazards in compliance with all OSHA regulations. Call us at 1-800-204-1729 or complete the form below to contact one of our experts.




Crane Operator Final Rule Issued by OSHA

OSHA has released the final rule that clarifies certification requirements for crane operators on Nov. 7, 2018. The final rule also maintains the employer’s duty to ensure that crane operators can safely operate the equipment.

The final rule, which was published in the Federal Register on Nov. 9, 2018, will require that employers train operators as needed to perform assigned crane activities, evaluate the operators, and then document successful completion of the evaluations. If employers completed evaluations before Dec. 9, 2018, they will not have to reevaluate the operators, but will only have to document that the evaluations occurred.

Crane operators must be certified based on the crane’s type and capacity, or the type only, and must receive ongoing training for new equipment. The capacity and type distinction revises a 2010 crane operator requirement that certifications must specify the rated lifting capacity of the cranes that the operator is certified on.

While testing organizations are not required to issue certifications distinguished by rated capacities, they are permitted to do so, and employers may accept them or continue to use certifications based on crane type alone.

OSHA estimates that 117,130 crane operators will be impacted by the final rule. The estimated cost to the industry will be $1.481 million for the performance of operator competency evaluations, $62,000 for documenting those evaluations, and $94,000 for any additional training needed for operators, bringing the total annual cost of compliance to $1.637 million.

But at the same time, OSHA does anticipate the rule will save money for employers. Due to fewer operators needing to get an additional certification, OSHA expects a “large one-time cost savings” of more than $25 million. An additional annual saving of $426,000 is also expected as certifications for operators moving to a higher capacity would no longer be needed.

Additionally, because most employers are already complying with many of the training and evaluation requirements, OSHA concluded that, on average, the impact of costs on employers will be low.

Most portions of the crane operator final rule will become effective on Dec. 10, 2018. Evaluation and documentation requirements will become effective on Feb. 7, 2019.

SCT trench safety training

OSHA Releases new Trench Safety Training Video

SCT trench safety training


Excavation work is one of the most hazardous construction operations to perform. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that trenching and excavation hazards in construction activities cause 50 fatalities per year, on average.

The hazards associated with trench work are typically both recognizable and preventable, so education and awareness are critical to understanding safe excavation practices.

What’s more, excavation and trenching are consistently at the top of OSHA willful violation list.  With this in mind, OSHA has just released a new public service video providing a quick, minute-long overview of “5 Things You Should Know to Stay Safe” when working with trenches.

OSHA’s 5 key trench safety training takeaways are:

  1. Ensure safe entry and exit
  2. Trenches must have cave-in protection
  3. Keep materials away from the edge of the trench
  4. Look for standing water or other hazards
  5. Never enter a trench unless it has been inspected

The OSHA trench safety training video is a supplement to existing posted general trenching excavation rules.  OSHA’s General Trenching and Excavation Rules are:

  • Keep heavy equipment away from trench edges.
  • Inspect trenches at the start of each shift.
  • Inspect trenches following a rainstorm.
  • Keep surcharge loads at least 2 feet (0.6 meters) from trench edges.
  • Know where underground utilities are located.
  • Do not work under raised loads.
  • Test for low oxygen, hazardous fumes and toxic gases.

At SCT, we’re experts in trenching and excavation safety, boasting some of the most experienced trench safety training professionals in the nation. Please contact us for any questions you have regarding excavation and trenching safety training and best practices.




SCT offers 6-Part Medical Evaluation

With the expansion of our Occupational Health Department’s services to include blood draws, SCT is excited to announce that we are providing a 6-part medical evaluation that is specifically designed for workers exposed to hazards within the industrial painting industry.

The 6-part service, which we formally call the 6-Part Painter’s Medical Evaluation, provides the comprehensive medical testing for workers who are expected to be exposed to hazards involved on industrial painting job sites. The tests included in the medical evaluation provide the OSHA-required baseline for workers and employers to guard against any elevated exposure on a job site.

Features of SCT’s 6-part medical evaluation include:

  1. Respiratory Medical Clearance Questionnaire and Review
  2. Spirometry (Pulmonary Function Test)
  3. Audiogram Evaluation & Snellen Vision Test
  4. Lead Level & Zinc Protoporphyrin (ZPP) Blood Draws
  5. Complete Blood Count (CBC) with Differential Blood Draw
  6. Urine Dip Test

The cost for the evaluation is $195 per person.

Let SCT come to you!

SCT has a full suite of mobile occupational health services. Using our state of the art mobile testing unit, we can arrive on your job site, perform all necessary testing, and fit into your schedule.

Contact us today using the contact form below, or talk to Cost Reduction Specialist Terri Cantrell directly at TCantrell@sct.us.com or 440-449-6000.



OSHA, BCSP collaborate on safety information distribution

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) are collaborating to provide BCSP certification holders with safety information and guidance to protect workers’ safety and health, according to an OSHA press release.

The two-year alliance will see BCSP working with OSHA to increase involvement of safety and health professionals and employers in safety information outreach efforts like the Safe + Sound Campaign, and the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. Both industry safety initiatives are annual events put on by OSHA.

Additionally, BCSP will assist in developing OSHA resources for small and medium-sized employers to identify situations that may benefit from a safety and health professional’s expertise, and aid in finding the right professional to help.

“Assuring the safety and health of working men and women, and ensuring that safety professionals have the tools to do so, are the foundation of our respective organizations,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt in the release. “We look forward to working with BCSP to promote the education and training needed by professionals who help protect workers in America.”

Extent of falls in construction revealed by new database

Researchers with the Center for Construction Research and Training (also known as the CPWR) used a new database to find that 42 percent of all construction fatalities involved falls.

Using NIOSH data, the researchers created the Construction FACE Database. FACE stands for Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation. This database helped researchers discover a number of revealing statistics about injuries in the construction industry, according to Safety and Health Magazine. 

From 1982 to 2015, researchers found 768 fatality reports in the construction industry. Of those, 325 (42 percent) involved falls. Moreover, 54 percent of workers killed had no access to a personal fall arrest system, and 23 percent did have access to such a system but did not use it.

Nearly a third of the falls were from 30 feet or higher, and 20 percent of the fatal incidents occurred during the victims’ first two months on the job.

Fall protection routinely tops OSHA’s list of most cited violations, including 2017. Plus, fall protection training requirements was the 9th most cited violations. You can watch our video covering the entire Top 10 list below.

The full study can be viewed here in the Journal of Safety Research, but it does require account to view.

Time to post the OSHA 300A Form

February 1 is right around the corner, which means OSHA is reminding employers to post a copy of their OSHA 300A Form in a common area where notices to employees are typically posted.

The OSHA 300A Form summarizes job-related injuries and illnesses during the previous year. OSHA requires this summary form to be displayed between February 1 and April 30.

According to OSHA’s recordkeeping and posting requirements, businesses with 10 or fewer employees and certain low-hazard industries are exempt from such posting requirements.

OSHA recordkeeping and reporting made headlines in 2016 and 2017 with the launch of the agency’s online reporting platform, called the Injury Tracking Application (ITA). As we previously reported, the electronic service was intended to improve workplace safety while giving researchers a pathway to more easily examine and identify new workplace hazards.

Companies required to comply with the electronic posting standard include businesses with 250 or more employees, or those with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk areas.

Since the electronic recordkeeping standard was introduced, there has been much debate over whether or not the electronic posting is necessary and fully secure. Certain states have OSHA-approved State Plans that have not, as of yet, adopted the requirement to submit electronic OSHA injury and illness reports. Businesses in these states — California, Maryland, Minnesota, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming — are not currently required to submit electronic data to OSHA through the ITA.

Stick with the safety experts at SCT as we follow all the developments with OSHA recordkeeping rules and regulations.

But remember, come Thursday, February 1, 2018, your company needs to post a copy of its OSHA 300A Form in a common area for all employees to access.

Start 2018 off right with an OSHA Tune Up from SCT

Start 2018 off right with an OSHA Tune Up from SCT, your number one occupational safety and health provider. Our OSHA Tune Up service, which is great for manufacturers, provides a comprehensive review of all written safety and health programs, a thorough safety and health hazard assessment of facilities, and written recommendations for achieving OSHA compliance.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. manufacturers have been seeing a trend of decreasing non-fatal injuries and illnesses, which is great news. However, manufacturing still outpaces other industries — including construction — for non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses.

Watch our video below and listen to Mike O’Donnell, SCT’s Director of Business Development, explain our OSHA Tune Up service and how it can benefit your business today!

Fatal Workplace Injuries Rise 7 Percent in U.S.

The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a steep increase in the number of fatal workplace injuries in the United States.

The BLS’s Census of 2016 Fatal Occupational Injuries reported 5,190 workplace deaths, a seven percent increase from 2015. Furthermore, the fatal injury rate also increased to 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, up from 3.4 in 2015, according to an OSHA news release.

The fatal injury rate was the highest since 2010, and 2016 also marked the third straight year with an increase in total workplace fatalities.

In the release, OSHA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt said the increase in worker deaths is “tragic trend.”

“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is committed to finding new and innovative ways of working with employers and employees to improve workplace safety and health,” Sweatt said. “OSHA will work to address these trends through enforcement, compliance assistance, education and training, and outreach.”

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Fatalities by Type of Incident

The news release from the BLS provided more insight into the latest data. Transportation incidents resulted in 2,083 deaths, which was about 40 percent of all workplace deaths. Transportation accounted for more workplace deaths than the next two causes combined.

Violence and other injuries by persons or animals, which includes self-inflicted incidents, increased by 23 percent to become the second-most common fatal incident in 2016, vaulting ahead of falls, slips, and trips. Fires and explosions had a large decline of 27 percent.

Drug overdoses jumped 32 percent, continuing a trend of at least a 25 percent annual increase since 2012, according to the BLS.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Most Dangerous Jobs

Logging workers, which are always near or at the top of the list, had the highest fatal work injury rate in 2016 at 135.9 per 100,000 full time equivalent workers with a total of 91 deaths. Fishers, aircraft pilots and flight engineers, roofers, and refuse and recyclable material collectors rounded out the top five occupations with the highest injury rates.

Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers had the most total fatalities at 918, but had the seventh highest fatality rate at 24.7.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The full data release from the BLS can be found here.  For the first time, the BLS also created interactive data charts, which are located here. 


DOT drug testing to include synthetic opiods

The Federal Department of Transportation has added four semi-synthetic opioids to its drug testing regimen. As of January 1, 2018, affected employees with five federal agencies will be subjected to the expanded DOT drug testing measures.

Those agencies include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and the U.S. Coast Guard. Read more about the specific employees covered under DOT Testing Regulation 49 CFR Part 40 here.

The four semi-synthetics opioids new to the DOT drug testing panel include: oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. All are used for moderate to severe pain management or pain relief. Common names for these semi-synthetic opioids include OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Dilaudid®, and Exalgo®.

The final rule was published in the November 13th edition of the Federal Register.

According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 33,000 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses in 2015.

“The opioid crisis is a threat to public safety when it involves safety-sensitive employees involved in the operation of any kind of vehicle or transport,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said when the final rule was published in November. “The ability to test for a broader range of opioids will advance transportation safety significantly and provide another deterrence to opioid abuse, which will better protect the public and ultimately save lives.”

The occupational health experts at SCT stay current on all updates and expansions when it comes to different regulations from federal, state, and local partners. SCT can meet all your drug testing needs. If you’re located in our home state of Ohio, SCT can help businesses navigate the Ohio BWC application for the Drug Free Safety Program, which can earn companies a 4 or 7 percent rebate on workers’ compensation premiums.

If you’re interested in taking part in the Ohio BWC Drug Free Safety Program, now’s the time to act! All testing, training and reporting is due by the last business day in March 2018. Watch our DFSP video for more information & contact us using the contact form below to get started on your DFSP today!