Construction workers face numerous physical hazards when navigating worksites. From multistory structures and moisture-slicked surfaces to overbearing power tools and large-scale industrial vehicles, builders encounter all manner of danger. While many employees in the industry manage to avoid sustaining injuries on the job, a significant number fall victim to various worksite hazards. In 2015, more than 930 workers were injured on construction sites, constituting approximately 21 percent of the all workplace injuries recorded that year, according to research from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. While many of these builders succumb to some of the traditional dangers mentioned above, others visited hospitals due to an under-the-radar yet equally debilitating threat: respirable crystalline silica.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration once again proved its allegiance to workers' health with a recent ruling that updates a decades-old beryllium exposure standard.
As you know, protecting employees from harmful exposures can be a daunting task, often more complex than preventing injuries, as employees frequently don't recognize or report issues until well after they materialize. Health and Safety professionals sometimes fall into a game of catch-up, trying to protect other workers from being affected by the same illness. Dangerous substances won't be noticed in time without proactive environment sampling and employee monitoring.
Keeping workers safe on the job is easier said than done. But there are a few simple changes that can help make a big impact. For example, by developing a cleaner, more organized work environment, safety managers can help reduce injuries.
OSHA has updated its silica exposure regulations for the first time since 1971. The final rule took effect on June 23. Depending on the industry, employers have between one to five years to comply. Silica, also known as quartz, is the second most common mineral found in the earth’s crust and is known to cause lung disease and cancer. Exposure to this common and dangerous substance is prevalent in various industries including construction, fracturing, and quartz counter manufacturing.