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.




10 Ways to Start Your Safety Program

Safe and Sound Week 2019 is the perfect time to jump start your company’s workplace safety program.

According to OSHA, employers pay almost $1 billion per week in direct workers’ compensation costs. While this figure includes things like medical expenses and legal services, it does not consider indirect costs including training of replacement employees, lost productivity, accident investigation, and lower employee morale.

For Safe and Sound Week, OSHA has released a helpful Top 10 list of simple ways to get your comprehensive workplace safety program up and running with a solid base.

  • Establish safety and health as a core value
  • Lead by example
  • Implement a reporting system
  • Provide training
  • Conduct inspections
  • Collect hazard control ideas
  • Implement hazard controls
  • Address emergencies
  • Seek input on workplace changes
  • Make improvements to the program

And if you’re still unsure of how to create your workplace safety program or want to take it to the next level, it might be time to contact the OSHA Workplace Safety Experts at SCT.

Call us at 1-800-204-1729 or complete the contact form below.





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.

Safe and Sound Week 2018: How to Succeed

From August 13 through 19, it’s Safe and Sound Week, a nationwide effort to raise awareness of the value of safety and health programs that include management leadership, worker participation, and a systematic approach to finding and fixing hazards in workplaces.

Spearheaded by OSHA, Safe and Sound Week encourages any business that cares about the health and safety of its employees to participate.

OSHA has outlined a simple three-step plan to participate in Safe and Sound Week:

  • Select your activities
  • Plan and promote your events
  • Recognize your participation

You should always make time for safety, but if you are in a hurry, check out our video that will help you identify some common hazards during Safe and Sound Week.

Be sure to check out our complete Safety Video Library on our website or on our YouTube Channel. Feel free to use our videos as part of your regular Toolbox Talks!

Ready to take the your safety program to the next level? Contact the OSHA Experts at SCT today!



SCT Lands Women’s Business Enterprise Status

SCT has been certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

The WBENC is the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the U.S. Its mission is to fuel economic growth by identifying, certifying and facilitating the development of women-owned businesses.

The Women’s Business Enterprise certification validates that SCT is at least 51 percent owned, controlled, operated, and managed by a woman or women. Certification assists a business competing for opportunities from WBENC Corporate Members and Government agencies.

President Gail Grueser founded SCT in 1999 with a focus on Occupational Health Services. In the ensuing decades, SCT has grown to provide comprehensive occupational safety and health solutions across the United States, with offices in Ohio, Illinois, California, Wisconsin and Florida.

SCT serves both private and public entities in numerous industries, including construction, general industry, glass manufacturing, transportation, health care and more.

With more senior-level OSHA experience on staff than any other consulting firm in the nation, SCT’s comprehensive services include consultation, inspections, written programs, submittal packages, expert witness testimony, biological, environmental and occupational monitoring, safety training, substance screenings, physical exams, TSA enrollment, background clearances, and representation for our clients to regulatory agencies.

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.



Budget Document Details OSHA Agenda

Last week, we outlined how the federal government’s proposed 2019 Fiscal Year budget would impact the Department of Labor, which houses many of the federal organizations that focus on workplace safety and health, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The budget outlined a 21 percent budget decrease for the Department of Labor, but OSHA’s budget of $549 million is the same amount as what was enacted in FY2018.

The OSHA budget has now been detailed in the administration’s Budget Justification document that further details exactly how its budget would be used in the coming fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2018.


OSHA expects to release three final rules, including for beryllium in general industry. The beryllium procedure is set to “proceed fairly quickly with a proposal in either late 2018 or very early 2019,” according to the document.

Final updates to the shipyard and construction versions of the beryllium standard are still expected in FY2018.

Beryllium is an important material in the aerospace, electronics, energy,  medical, and defense industries, but exposure can put workers at an increased risk of developing chronic beryllium disease or lung cancer, according to OSHA.

The beryllium updates have been a long time in the making. The proposed rule was originally issued in 2015, with the final rule taking effect in May 2017.

If your company is in need of air monitoring or any other services to conform to the new beryllium standard, contact us today. SCT’s team of experts is always ready to help you reach your workplace safety goals.

Budget Shifts

While OSHA’s enacted 2018 budget matches the requested 2019 budget, the funds are set to be used in slightly different ways.

In FY 2019, the $549,033,000 budget will be used for 2,024 full time equivalent workers (FTE), which is an increase 71 FTE compared to 2018. An increase of $5.12 million would add 32 FTE to compliance assistance, including Voluntary Protection Programs, and a $6.148 million increase would add 42 FTE to enforcement.

OSHA has set a goal of 30,840 inspections and 46,573 enforcement units for FY2019. Enforcement units account for the differences in complexity and severity in different inspections. The 2019 enforcement unit goals are 12 percent increase over the number of units reached in 2017, according to the document.

To account for the budget increases in these areas, the Susan Harwood Training Grants would be eliminated, freeing up some $10.4 million. Additionally, $537,000 would be shifted away from Technical Support and $266,000 from Executive Direction.

Contact SCT with all Occupational Safety & Health Questions!



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.”

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.

Maximum OSHA Penalty Increases with Inflation

As of January 2, 2018, the maximum penalties handed out by OSHA have increased by 2 percent.

Serious violations now come with a maximum penalty of $12,934, compared to $12,675 last year. Willful or repeat violations have a maximum penalty of $129,336, compared to the previous max of $126,749, according to the U.S. Federal Register. 

The new maximum penalty levels apply to violations that occurred after November 2, 2015, but with the penalty assessed after January 2, 2018. If the penalty was assessed between January 13, 2017, but on or before January 2, 2018, then the previous penalty scale is used.

In an effort to make all these numbers and dates easier to understand, we created a handy infographic below. Check it out and feel free to share it online or at your workplace.

The increase is a requirement of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Improvements Act, which Congress passed into law in 2015. As a part of the legislation, maximum OSHA penalties must keep pace with the rate of inflation and have to be enacted before January 15 of each year.

Before 2015, OSHA’s penalty structure had not been updated since 1990. After that Act went into effect, maximum OSHA penalties increased from $7,000 to more than $12,000 for serious violation, and from $70,000 to $124,709 for willful or repeat violations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

What’s the best way to avoid learning more about OSHA’s penalty structure? Preventing workplace injuries from happening! Our experts at SCT have decades of experience working for and with OSHA. Fill out our contact form to quickly get in touch with our team.