Almost two years after enforcing tougher federal rules to reduce construction workers’ exposure to silica dust, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is considering comments to expand its Table 1 compliance standards, which could make it easier for construction firms to comply.
The Table 1 standards outline actions to reduce silica dust exposure for specific tools and tasks, and if followed, the operator is automatically in compliance with the rules. For tasks and equipment not mentioned in the table, employers have to follow more difficult practices of measuring airborne silica to provide data that workers are not being exposed above allowable limits.
Examples of Table 1 compliance equipment include vacuums, shrouds and spray systems, as well as respirators, for drills, saws and other equipment that produce airborne silica dust.
Until October 15, OSHA is accepting comments from the construction industry on the following matters:
- Additional engineering and work practice control methods that could be added to Table 1 equipment and tasks to limit silica exposure.
- Other equipment and tasks that should be added to Table 1, along with information about their associated engineering and work practice control methods.
“Expanding Table 1 to include additional engineering and work practice control methods, equipment and tasks could provide employers with more flexibility and reduce regulatory burdens while maintaining protections for employees,” OSHA says.
Examples of some task and equipment not listed in Table 1 include dust collection systems for power sanders, power paint scrapers, reciprocating saws, wire saws, chainsaws used to cut materials containing silica, and powered sweepers on trucks.
If you want to comment on whether Table 1 standards should be changed, you can send comments and materials to OSHA electronically via http://www.regulations.gov; by fax, if it does not exceed 10 pages, to the OSHA Docket Office at 202-693-1648; or by mail to OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. OSHA-2010-0034, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-3653, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20210.
After the comment period, if OSHA believes revisions to the standards are in order, those proposed revisions will be published in the Federal Register for public comment, the agency says. For more details on OSHA’s current request for Table 1 comments, click here.