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Eliminate the Dust: Complying With the New Silica Standard

Posted by on Oct 12, 2017 in News

Filed in Codes and Regulations, Home Building, Labor, Safety and Health by NAHB Now on October 12, 2017 • As NAHBNow has reported, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has decreased the permissible levels of exposure to crystalline silica for construction. NAHB has told policy makers from the start that this wide-reaching rule will be difficult to meet and enforce. But it’s the law of the land, pending any change from NAHB’s legal challenge still outstanding. Dan Johnson, CSP, managing partner of SFI Compliance Inc., a national safety consulting firm and member of the NAHB Safety Committee, told us what home builders need to know to comply with the new rule and avoid fines. It looks like you’re going to be busy. It is a far-reaching standard, and a challenge to comply with in many ways. Home builders definitely need to be aware of this. Even if you use subcontractors, builders may still have oversight responsibilities for the jobsite. OSHA, under its multi-employer citation policy, calls that the “controlling employer.” As the CE, the home builder has general oversight responsibility over the jobsite, including the power to correct safety and health violations itself or require others to correct them.  This creates potential liability for the builder if crystalline silica exposures above the permissible levels are present. What materials or actions create silica dust? Silica naturally exists in things like soil, stone and granite. It becomes an exposure issue for workers when dust is created from the many work processes of home building including drilling, chipping, sawing and sanding materials like tile, concrete, brick, stone, fiber cement siding and others. In short, it’s really about the dust. How can silica dust be mitigated to meet this rule? For your subcontractors, or you if it’s your team doing the work, it’s a matter of keeping silica dust out of the air so that it is out of the breathable zone of the worker. The two main ways to eliminate the dust is to vacuum as the dust is being created or spray water to keep it from going into the air. Both can be accomplished with add-on attachments to power tools or with the use of specific tool models. You can use a jackhammer with a water delivery system, for example. Or you can use a shroud and dust collection system on a handheld drill. What is your advice to home builders? I’d reach out to every single subcontractor I have and alert them in an email or other written communication and ask for written confirmation that they are aware of and complying with the silica requirements. And I’d save that documentation. Remember, if it happens on your job, you have potential liability. If I walk up to my jobsite and see a dust cloud, it’s my responsibility in supervising the worksite and the overall build to stop that contractor...

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Kicking Off Careers in Construction Month

Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 in News

Filed in Construction Industry, Labor, Safety and Health, Student Chapters by NAHB Now on October 3, 2017 • 0 Comments October is Careers in Construction Month, an important time for all of us in the housing industry to increase public awareness about the great jobs available in residential construction and related trade professions. NAHB recently launched a Careers in the Construction Trades section on its website to highlight the opportunities in six popular trades. We encourage businesses and HBAs to share this information with educators, students and their parents. If you are looking for ideas to highlight construction careers in your community, check out the Careers in Construction Month Toolkit. Some activities include: Open Up Your Site: Work with your local middle or high school to host a field trip for students to visit your construction site. Arrange for students to tour the site and gather first-hand information about what it takes to have a successful career in construction. Host a Job Shadow Day: Invite students to spend the entire day at your business to learn various aspects of the industry and the range of career opportunities. Learn how Toll Brothers hosted a national job shadow day. Honor a Local Educator: Select a day to recognize a local teacher for their contribution to developing the future construction workforce. Honor instructors in high schools, universities, job corps centers and apprenticeship training programs. Throughout the month we’ll be sharing more information about trades and HBA success stories. If you have questions about Careers in Construction Month or new ideas to share, contact NAHB’s Greg Zick at 202-266-8493. Learn more...

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