Six Safety Issues to Know About

This quarter, familiarize yourself with some safety issues that could directly affect you and your employees. Below are six current safety concerns like heat effects, respirable crystalline silica, and other regulations you should be aware of.

RESPIRABLE CRYSTALLINE SILICA

At the time Cal/OSHA adopted the revised federal standard the package included a table that federal OSHA developed in an attempt to assist some construction employers in complying with the standard.  This table matches common construction tasks with dust control methods.

The revised standard and table can be found here.

So, for construction employers whose jobs include the identified equipment/tasks, they may use Table 1.

  • Title 8, 1532.3 (c) Specified exposure control methods. (1) For each employee engaged in a task identified on Table 1, the employer shall fully and properly implement the engineering controls, work practices, and respiratory protection specified for the task on Table 1, unless the employer assesses and limits exposure of the employee to respirable crystalline silica in accordance with subsection (d)
  • This table identifies eighteen (18) equipment/tasks and provides 1) engineering and work practice control methods for that task and 2) identifies required respiratory protection and minimum assigned protection factors for shifts 4 hours or less, and for shifts more than 4 hours.

For construction employers whose jobs are not identified in Table 1, or where the employer does not fully and properly implement the engineering controls, work practices and respiratory protection described in Table 1, they shall comply with the following:

  • Title 8, 1532.3 (d) Alternative exposure control methods. For tasks not listed in Table 1, or where the employer does not fully and properly implement the engineering controls, work practices, and respiratory protection described in Table 1:
    • (1) Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) states “The employer shall ensure that no employee is exposed to an airborne concentration of respirable crystalline silica in excess of 50 µg/m³, calculated as an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA)
    • (2) Exposure assessment – this subsection states that “The employer shall assess the exposure of each employee who is or may reasonably be expected to be exposed to respirable crystalline silica at or above the action level…” The employer may use one of two optins to perform this assessment.
      • Under 1532.3 (d)(B) – Performance option – the employer shall assess the 8-hour TWA exposure for each employee on the basis of any combination of air monitoring data or objective data sufficient to accurately characterize employee exposures to respirable crystalline silica.
      • Under 1532.2 (d)(C)(1) – Scheduled monitoring option – the employer shall perform initial monitoring to assess the 8-hour TWA exposure for each employee on the basis of one or more personal breathing zone air samples that reflect the exposures of employees on each shift, for each job classification, in each work area
      • (2) – If initial monitoring indicates that employee exposures are below the action level, the employer may discontinue monitoring for those employees whose exposures are represented by that monitoring
      • (3) – Where the most recent exposure monitoring indicates that employee exposures are at or above the action level but at or below the PEL, the employer shall repeat such monitoring within three months of the most recent monitoring
      • (4) – Where the most recent (non-initial) exposure monitoring indicates that employee exposures are below the action level, the employer shall repeat such monitoring within six months of the most recent monitoring until two consecutive measurements, taken seven or more days apart, are below the action level, at which time the employer may discontinue monitoring for those employees whose exposures are represented by such monitoring, except as otherwise provided in subsection (d)(2)(D) [this subsection addresses reassessment of exposures when changes occur in production process, control equipment, personnel, or work practices may reasonably be expected to result in new or additional exposures at or above the action level or when the employer has reason to believe that new or additional exposures at or above the action level have occurred]
      • Under 1532.3 (d)(2)(E) Methods of sample analysis – this subsection specifies that employers shall ensure that all samples taken to satisfy the monitoring requirements of subsection (d)(2) [Exposure assessments] are evaluated by a laboratory that analyzes air samples for respirable crystalline silica in accordance with Appendix A. This Appendix relates to Methods of Sample Analysis.

The full text of the Respirable Crystalline Silica standard Title 8, §1532.3 adopted by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board can be found here.

HEAT ILLNESS PREVENTION

Employers are encouraged to review their Heat Illness Prevention Programs as this remains a high priority for enforcement officers.  The requirements under the regulation can be accessed at:  www.dir.ca.gov/title8/3395.html; and, a model program is available for review at:  www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/ESPHIP.pdf

Of the approximate 7,800 inspections conducted last year, fully 3,038 involved HIP.  A total of 1,528 inspections were in the construction industry, and a total penalty amount for all sectors of $1.4 million was assessed.

INDOOR HEAT

Senate Bill 1167 was signed into law which requires Cal/OSHA to propose for review and adoption by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board a new standard that minimizes heat-illness and injury among employees working in indoor places of employment by January 1, 2019.

The standard is to be based on environmental temperatures, work activity levels, and §It is still unclear as to whether commercial or residential buildings under construction are covered by the proposed standard.  It is possible that construction trailers, corporation yard buildings and other construction structures will be covered.

Safety Consultant Chris Lee is monitoring the development of this standard and will have further updates as developments occur.

NEW CAL/OSHA PENALTY LEVELS

As a result of federal legislation directing federal departments and agencies to adjust their respective penalty tables to ensure that they are adjusted for inflation, federal grantee organizations such as Cal/OSHA were required to follow suit.

Accordingly, the new penalties under Cal/OSHA are as follows;

  • Regulatory/general citations:  maximum will increase from $7000 to $12,471
  • Serious citations:  no change as California’s cap of $25,000 is still above the federal law
  • Willful and Repeat citations:  raised from $70,000 to $124,709.

Needless to say, these new penalty levels are a strong incentive for employers to ensure their safety and health programs are current, and fully enforced at the job site.

REFINERY SAFETY AND HEALTH

The Cal/OSHA Standards Board on May 18, 2017, approved a new regulation to strengthen workplace safety and health at oil refineries throughout California.  The standard became effective on October 1, 2017.

The new regulation, Title 8, §1589.1 “Process Safety Management for Petroleum Refineries” provides a framework for anticipating, preventing, and responding to hazards at refineries.

One of the provisions under “Contractor responsibilities” requires that contractors shall ensure that it meets requirements of Health and Safety Code Section 25536.7, and that all employees are effectively trained in a 20-hour course covering the following;

  • Refinery Safety Overview (8 hours)
  • Basic Principles of Petroleum Refining (4 hours)
  • Craft-Specific Safety Training (8 hours)

All contractor employees working in refineries in California must have this training not later than January 1, 2018.

For reference and additional information, the standard can be accessed at:  www.dir.ca.gov/OSHSB/documents/Process-Safety-Management-for-Petroleum-Refineries-txtbdconsider.pdf

CRANE OPERATOR CERTIFICATION

Federal OSHA has extended the deadline for crane operator certification from 11/17/17 to 11/17/18.

The Standards Board informed Chris Lee that they are awaiting official notification of the federal action.  Once formally notified, Cal/OSHA will decide whether they will also extend the deadline for California contractors (Chris expects they will extend).

Further updates will be provided as developments occur.

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