For an agency that has been moving at a near-record pace this year, July and August proved to be exceptionally active months for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA®). Recently, an OSHA official gave a long-awaited update regarding the processing of Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) applications. The agency announced it’s delaying the compliance date for certain provisions of its general industry beryllium standard. And finally, the administration released comprehensive FAQs and training videos on their 2016 silica rule.
Let’s dive in.
OSHA confirms VPP plans, states agency goals
According to Doug Kalinowski, director of OSHA's Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs, the organization is fully committed to moving forward with VPP applications. During the Labor & Management Open Forum on Aug. 28, Kalinowski outlined two core goals of the administration.
First, officials must eliminate what Kalinowski refers to as “a huge backlog” of pending applications. Some of these requests date back as far as five years. Second, the agency needs to standardize the approval process throughout the nation. There’s a tremendous disparity in how quickly a regional office visits a site after receiving an application. Some offices average a 90-day cycle, while others take around 1,200 days.
Kalinowski reiterated OSHA’s commitment to processing the applications, stating:
"We're trying to find a uniform way to process these applications across the country...VPPPA [Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association] really is critical...VPPPA really taught OSHA how to make a safety and health management program work...We will keep moving forward."
OSHA extends beryllium rule compliance
Following the agency’s decision to offer another extension, businesses will have until Dec. 12, 2018, to become compliant with portions of OSHA’s beryllium standard. This particular extension pertains only to provisions relating to methods of compliance, beryllium work areas, regulated areas, personal protective clothing and equipment, hygiene facilities and practices, housekeeping, communication of hazards, and recordkeeping.
All other dates, including 2020’s deadline for engineering controls, will not be extended.
In an official statement, which you can read in its entirety, OSHA explained its decision to extend the compliance deadline once again:
“OSHA has determined that the extension will maintain essential safety and health protections for workers while the agency prepares a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to clarify certain provisions of the beryllium standard that would maintain the standard’s worker safety and health protections, and address employers’ compliance burdens.”
OSHA releases new silica-related training videos and FAQs
OSHA has released six new training videos and created a robust FAQs page to help employees better understand the agency’s March 2016 final rule regulating occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica (silica) in the construction industry.
The training videos cover a wide array of tools, from stationary masonry saws to handheld grinders for uses other than mortar removal. You can learn more about the various topics by visiting the YouTube links below:
- Stationary Masonry Saws
- Handheld Power Saws
- Handheld and Stand-Mounted Drills
- Jackhammers or Handheld Powered Chipping Tools
- Handheld Grinders for Mortar Removal (Tuckpointing)
- Handheld Grinders for Uses Other than Mortar Removal
If you’re looking for even more clarity on the silica rule, you can download the PDF version of OSHA’s “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the Construction Industry.” Alternatively, you can visit the agency’s official webpage on the subject. With more than 50 questions and answers, the agency breaks down everything from the scope of the rule to advice on general record keeping.
When the agency began enforcing the new silica rule last October, it created quite the stir. In the first six months of enforcement, regulators cited nearly 120 violations. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the most common violations include:
- Failure to conduct an exposure assessment of worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica
- Failure to adhere to the Table 1 list of equipment/tasks and OSHA’s required engineering and work control methods and respiratory protection
- Lack of a written exposure control plan
What does the future hold?
It’s impossible to tell what the future holds, and this is especially true when it comes to government-issued regulations. Luckily, there are steps your organization can take to ensure compliance.
The very first step begins with education. If you’d like to learn more about steps you can take to create a safer work environment, you can download our complimentary whitepaper, Safegagement™: Creating Safe Companies That Thrive.
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