By Eileen Houlihan, senior writer/editor, ARTBA

ARTBA has developed a compliance assistance document to help transportation construction firms meet new Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) rules for crystalline silica exposure.

“What Highway Construction & Material Firm Owners Need to Know About the New OSHA Crystalline Silica Standard” is a “plain-English” publication with key background materials and a four-step compliance guide. It is available for $10.

Failure to comply with the new OSHA rules could result in significant fines and penalties for industry firms.

The rule took effect June 23, 2016, but the industry was given until Sept. 23, 2017, to comply. OSHA has said that for the first 30 days of the new rule, it will consider whether employers are making “good faith” efforts to meet the new standard before issuing a citation.

ARTBA and its construction association allies filed suit in April 2016 challenging the rule, arguing that OSHA’s standard is based on flawed science and unrealistic assumptions about the construction industry, and could divert significant resources—human and financial—away from activities aimed at mitigating, if not eliminating, documented, serious hazards to workers’ health and safety.  The case is currently pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit.

Crystalline silica is a mineral commonly found in sand, rock, concrete and masonry products. It becomes dangerous when silica-containing products are broken, crushed, drilled, cut, etc. and produce a fine dust that is breathed into the lungs. Silica damages lung tissue and can lead to a serious, and sometimes fatal, lung disease called “Silicosis.”