The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the branch of the government that is responsible for ensuring employees have a safe place to work. As such, they set and enforce safety regulations that employers must follow.
If regulations are disregarded, employees have the right to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to request that their workplace be inspected. The name of a complainant is not released; therefore, workers do not have to be concerned about retaliation from their employer.
2018-2019 OSHA Changes
At the end of 2018, several new regulations were discussed. These regulations included changes to certification requirements for crane operators, new rules to limit employee exposure to silica, and updated protocols for fit-testing respirators. Now that these regulations are in effect, employees and employers should be aware of all the changes that are applicable to their industry; otherwise, an employee may become injured or contract an illness, or a disease.
Crane Operator Certification Requirement Changes
In 2010, OSHA created a three-step qualification process for crane operators. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s regulations, this three-step qualification process must be completed before an operator is allowed to control the crane without being supervised, continuously.
- Complete training in the operation of the various crane types. A certification must be issued once this training is complete.
- Obtain licensing/certification in accordance with OSHA’s Subpart CC.
- Successfully pass an evaluation given by the employer. This evaluation must be designed to ensure that each crane operator possesses the knowledge, ability and skill necessary to recognize a risk and safely operate the equipment.
In the new Final Rule, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration places a strong emphasis on the employer’s evaluation. The importance of the employer’s evaluation is crucial since crane operators frequently work as subcontractors, moving from one job site to the next.
New evaluation documentation must include:
- The name of the operator being evaluated.
- The name and signature of the individual who is performing the evaluation.
- The date the evaluation was performed.
- The model, make and configuration of the equipment used during the evaluation.
These evaluation documents must be maintained on-site for the entirety of the crane operator’s employment. In addition, this new rule clarifies the employer’s responsibility to provide crane operators with re-training and post-certification training when necessary (e.g., new equipment operation, new tasks to be performed, etc.).
OSHA Adds Additional Requirements for Respiratory Mask Fit-Testing Procedure
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new Worker Protection Standard (WPS), employers are required to provide employees with a medical evaluation (at no cost to the employee) as well as respirator and fit-test training that is designed to provide the employee with the information necessary to comply with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard. In addition, employers must keep records of each employee’s medical evaluation, completed fit test and training information for at least two years.
Besides the new OSHA regulations listed above, the employer must still follow the mandatory OSHA-accepted, fit-testing procedures as outlined in Appendix A to § 1910.134.
The Crystalline Silica Rule
Crystalline silica is commonly found in materials like stone, sand, mortar and concrete. In addition, crystalline silica is used in the making of pottery, glass, bricks, artificial stone and ceramics.
Respirable crystalline silica is at least 100 times smaller than a single grain of sand. These particles are created and become airborne while a worker is cutting, grinding, drilling and sawing. Additionally, this silica is released into the air while crushing rock, stone, block, brick, concrete and mortar.
Industrial sand is another source for respirable crystalline silica exposure. This sand is used in a variety of operations, such as fracking and working with metal.
According to OSHA, approximately 2.3 million people in the United States are exposed to silica at their place of employment. Workers who breathe these tiny particles in are at a higher risk for the development of a variety of silica-related diseases.
Silica-related diseases include:
- lung cancer;
- silicosis, which is an incurable type of lung disease that may potentially lead to disability and death;
- kidney disease; and
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
In order to protect workers who are exposed to these tiny, breathable crystalline silica particles, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued two new standards: one related to general industry and maritime, and another for the construction industry.
The Respirable Crystalline Silica standard that OSHA has implemented for the construction industry stipulates that employers must limit each worker’s exposure to the silica as well as provide other safety measures to protect workers. Employers can measure their employees’ exposure and then independently determine which dust controls work the best to limit employee exposure or they can use the control methods provided by the administration.
The standard for general industry and maritime is nearly identical to that of the construction; however, it is a bit more extensive. This standard addresses the use of dust controls, suggests implementing housekeeping practices that do not create airborne dust and recommends the use respirators.
If you reside in or around Albany in the state of New York and you have sustained an injury at work, contact the law office of Paul Giannetti today. As an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, he can help you attain the settlement that you deserve. To schedule your free case evaluation, contact Paul Giannetti Attorney At Law today.