GSBE Weekly Update 12/06/2017
Construction Industry, Concrete Makers Subject to New Silica Dust Rules
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The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) promulgated regulations limiting worker exposure levels to respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air for an eight-hour shift and providing other safeguards to protect workers. How are the federal amendments going to affect California’s construction industry and fixed location manufacturers of concrete products?
On March 25, 2016, federal OSHA published a final rule written as two standards, one for construction and the other for general industry and maritime. The regulations lower the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour shift.
The Construction Safety Orders (CSO) has a new Section 1532.3 and the General Industry Safety Orders (GISO) has a new Section 5204 and revised Section 5155.
The Cal/OSHA Standards Board adopted the federal regulation and submitted the regulation with modifications to fit California’s regulatory format to the Office of Administrative Law. The state regulation was approved on October 17, 2017 and is now effective for the construction industry. The GISO regulations become fully effective on June 23, 2018.
Common requirements for both construction and industry are:
- Establish and implement a written exposure control plan (WECP) that identifies hazards and methods used to protect workers. Include procedures restricting access to work areas where high exposures may occur.
- Designate a competent person to implement the WECP.
- Restrict housekeeping practices that expose workers to silica where feasible alternatives are available.
- Provide respirators to workers when dust controls cannot limit exposures above the PEL.
- Offer medical exams, including X-rays and lung function tests, every three years for workers who are required by the regulation to wear a respirator for 30 days or more per year.
- Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure.
- Keep records of exposure measurements, objective data, and medical exams.
Each of the regulations contains identical appendices:
- Appendix A is mandatory and provides methods of sample analysis to employers in accordance with the new regulation.
- Appendix B is nonmandatory and provides medical surveillance guidelines to employers.
Because construction results in an ever-changing environment, a table has been developed for common respirable crystalline silica-producing activities. The table is divided into exposures of less than 4 hours and for exposures of more than 4 hours.
The dust-mitigating process is included with each process and tool. Mitigation may be equipment with a dust collector, integrated water delivery system, a combination of devices, or the employee will be required to wear a respirator.
Because the processes in general industry can be limited or contained in specific areas, the general industry regulation is directed more toward proving silica exposures are occurring below certain levels; therefore, the emphasis is on testing/sampling. The action level is 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an eight-hour day.
State-Run Retirement Program: Businesses Urged to Participate in Workshops on Draft Regulations for Secure Choice
Businesses are urged to participate in the upcoming workshops to discuss draft regulations for the new state-run retirement savings program, Secure Choice.
Workshops are scheduled for December 5 at the State Personnel Board, located at 801 Capitol Mall, Room 150 in Sacramento, and December 7 at the Ronald Reagan State Building, Auditorium, 300 South Spring Street in Los Angeles from 10 a.m.–noon.
Individuals who cannot attend the hearings in person may provide comments by phone at (888) 278-0296, participant code: 6531748.
Signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2016, SB 1234 (de León; D-Los Angeles; Chapter 804), along with the original SB 1234 (de León; D-Los Angeles; Chapter 734) and SB 923 (de León; D-Los Angeles; Chapter 737) in 2012, creates a framework for the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Investment Program.
The program is a state-run retirement savings plan for private employees that includes automatic enrollment with an opt-out provision for an estimated 6.3 million California workers whose employers do not currently offer an eligible retirement savings program. Private employers with five or more employees will be required to automatically enroll their employees into and make payroll deductions for their Secure Choice retirement accounts, unless the employee opts out.
Employers that do not offer a retirement plan or do not auto-enroll their employees into Secure Choice would be subject to a penalty; otherwise the program is intended to impose no risk or liability to the employer or to the state. It is intended that employers’ responsibility is simply as a pass-through, to deduct and submit contributions from employee wages.
The program will be funded by an automatic 3% to 5% payroll deduction; specific default contribution will be determined by the Secure Choice Investment Board. There is no contribution made by the employer into the retirement account.
According to the State Treasurer’s Office, late 2019 is likely to be the earliest that large employers which do not offer a retirement plan to their employees will be required to provide access to Secure Choice. The requirement will be phased in over a three-year period. Any information to the contrary is wrong.
Please contact the Treasurer’s Office if you are told something different so the office can correct the source by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.