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The Safety Brief – Changes You NEED To Know for 2017

The Safety Brief – Changes You NEED To Know for 2017


Written by Josh Ierna, JLN Safety Specialist.

For those that work non-stop, it is hard to stay up-to-date with the OSHA regulations. With work taking a top priority, regulation updates may be missed or forgotten about.

This newsletter has been created specifically for the hard working individuals that need a quick explanation about what’s coming next and how to prepare. This newsletter will give you the essential regulatory information in an easy to understand format. We want to keep you informed so you can keep your crew safe and fine free.

There are three topics we are going to briefly cover. In the following months, these topics will be the lone subject of the monthly newsletter. For this month, we are going to raise awareness of the recent changes and the upcoming future.

  • This past August, OSHA increased their fines 78%. OSHA will be allowed to continually increase their fines with the inflation rate of the dollar every year.

    • For example, Willful violations went from a maximum $70,000 fine to a maximum of $124,709

  • OSHA’s compliance date for the new silica dust standard in construction is getting closer.

    • July 23rd, 2017 is when employers will be required to have implemented the new standard requirements.

    • The full article (July) will talk about the specifics of the standard, how to understand what is being asked of the employer, how to implement the proper controls, and how to maintain the documentation necessary to keep compliance.

  • OSHA has released the final rule for the new General Industry Walking Working Surfaces Standard.

    • There are many new changes in the final rule, however, we are going to focus on the hard deadlines OSHA has incorporated. The full article (May) will talk about standard interpretation, the new training requirements, and how to implement physical controls necessary to stay in compliance.

Fine Increases:

The OSHA fine increase proposes a more significant loss to those in the industry. The potential of a fine related loss could mean the difference between a successful job and a financially catastrophic job. When a contractor bids a job, they do not factor in a $124,709 dollar “wiggle room” or “mark-up”. Contractor’s do not include an OSHA fine into their budget. Therefore the fine will come directly from the company’s profit funds.

This is not including the actions following an OSHA investigation. The violation given has to be corrected generally within 3 days. OSHA will perform a follow-up inspection/visit to identify that the hazard has been mitigated. So not only has the company had to pay the fine, they have also had to buy the equipment, the training, etc. at and expedited rate to put the company into compliance ASAP.

Below we have broken down the cost of OSHA fine related loss (from a purely fictional financial standpoint):

In CASE 1 (OSHA violation): The employer was fined by OSHA for not providing fall protection for 124,709 dollars. The employer is required to pay the fine and purchase (at an expedited rate) a harness, lanyard and training to avoid a repeat violation and put the company in compliance. The price of a harness, lanyard, and training all purchased at an expedited rate for a total of $8000.

$127,709 + $8000 = Total cost: $135,709

In CASE 2 (following best practice, no violation): The employer has every new employee assigned a harness and lanyard upon hire. The new employee is required to go through the extensive fall protection training to ensure proper use, inspection, and maintenance before beginning any work. All the same contents, but at a non-expedited rate for a total of: $2000.

Total cost: $2000

Loss Calculation:

OSHA related fine costs – Following best practice & no violation = TOTAL LOSS

         $135,709 – $2000 = 133,709

133,709 is the potential loss due to ONE OSHA fine for fall protection.

$133,709 could give 67 employees a harness, lanyard and extensive training.

This is your loss potential when not using this equipment and training to the standard. The risk greatly outweighs the “chance” of a fine. Companies need to start their pro-active approach towards safety. If it has not been considered before, the wake-up call is the new fine increase.

Safety professionals need to take advantage of this new fine increase when incorporating a cost benefit analysis. This potential loss calculation will shine financial light onto the benefit of having best practice hazard controls, training, and documentation. Use the fine increase to your advantage. Keep your workers and co-workers safe by utilizing best practice however it is accomplished.

Silica Dust:

The deadline for implementing OSHA’s Final Rule for silica dust in construction is nearing. July 23rd, 2017 is when the new standard will go into effect; right in the middle of the busy season for the construction industry.

Silica dust (quartz) is commonly found on almost every construction site. Respirable silica dust can be found in concrete products, drywall, and sand blasting media. Activities that commonly generate silica dust are concrete block/rock cutting, concrete sanding, demolition activities, sand blasting.

The OSHA standard for silica dust is changing and will require action from employers to stay in compliance.

  • The new PEL (Permissible Exposure Limit) is 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The previous PEL was 100 micrograms per cubic meter of air

  • The action level is half of the PEL, at 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

  • The order of exposure control is to follow the hierarchy of controls.

    • Ex: Ventilation use before respirator use

  • A written exposure control plan will be required

Where companies interpret the silica dust standard wrong is implementation. They think a respirator will due for every activity and exposure. Without hard proof or documentation, you do not know what your employees are being exposed to. Consequently, you are assuming the control being implemented is sufficient. This could potentially lead to severe over-exposure. This could result in violating multiple standards at once.

Air sampling is the first step in the process to determine the following steps of control implementation.

In the end, the best choice is to establish air sampling for all activities that could have a potential silica dust exposure. This will tell you exactly what you need to do and give documentation to prove it. Without documentation, there is no proof to your control methods.

The air samples will be sent to a third-party lab for analysis. After analysis, you will be able to determine your exposure level for every activity analyzed. This will provide you with hard factual documentation in regards to your work.

For more information, JLN is currently offering our in depth OSHA Final Rule: Silica Dust training. The training will talk about the various standard changes, how to’s, health effects, available controls, and how to obtain the documentation you need to stay in compliance.

General Industry – Walking Working Surfaces

Since the standard came out, there has never been a definitive 4ft fall protection standard in general industry. It assumed by the wording and interpretation of other standards.

OSHA has released its final rule to update the Walking Working Surfaces standard. It clarifies subjects, removes repetitive information between the constructions standard, and has identified new requirements.

For this article, we are going to briefly touch upon the new standards implementation dates. These dates are when OSHA will be able to enforce the final rule via fine.

The major deadlines:

  • Dockboards are to be constructed as to not allow vehicle run-off when installed after January 17th, 2017

  • Training of the new standard and related contents is required by May 17th, 2017

  • Inspecting and certifying in writing permanent anchorages used for rope decent systems by November 20th, 2017

  • Fixed ladders 24ft and taller, installed after November 18th, 2018 are to have a ladder safety system or fall protection system installed

  • All fixed ladders 24ft and taller, are to have a ladder safety system or fall protection system installed by 2036

There are other various minor changes, however, they are standards and will be enforced as such. In the upcoming article for the new Walking Working Surfaces final rule we will discuss how to prepare for the necessary requirements to keep you in compliance.