US Department of Labor's OSHA forms alliance with Georgia organizations
to reduce worker exposure to silica in the construction industry
Alliance signing ceremony held April 15 in Atlanta
ATLANTA – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has formed an alliance with several organizations in Atlanta to provide employers and workers in the construction industry with information, guidance and training to prevent overexposure to crystalline silica dust.
The agreement was signed by OSHA, the Georgia Tech Research Institute's Occupational Safety and Health Division, Brasfield & Gorrie LLC, the Georgia Local Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association and the Georgia Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers on Tuesday, April 15.
"This alliance demonstrates the proactive commitment of federal, state and other partners to protect the safety and health of workers in the construction industry," said Teresa Harrison, OSHA's acting regional administrator in Atlanta.
Inhalation of respirable crystalline silica particles has long been known to cause silicosis, a disabling, non-reversible and sometimes fatal lung disease. Leading scientific organizations, including the American Cancer Society, have also confirmed the causal relationship between silica and lung cancer.
Occupational exposure to crystalline silica often occurs as part of common workplace operations involving cutting, sawing, drilling and crushing of concrete, brick, block, rock and stone products. Processes historically associated with high rates of silicosis include sandblasting, sand-casting foundry operations, mining, tunneling, cement cutting and demolition, masonry work, and granite cutting.
OSHA has recently proposed to update its current silica standard. Published in the Federal Register on Sept. 12, 2013, OSHA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica aims to update the inconsistent and outdated permissible exposure limits for crystalline silica in general industry, construction and shipyards, as well as to establish other provisions to better protect workers. OSHA just concluded three weeks of hearings on the proposed rule and is now receiving post-hearing comments. Additional information on the proposed rule, including five fact sheets, is available at http://www.osha.gov/silica/.
Companies and groups interested in learning more about OSHA's activities to improve employee safety and health in Georgia may contact OSHA's representatives in the Atlanta-West Area Office at 678-903-7301, the Atlanta-East Area Office at 770-493-6644 or the Savannah Area Office at 912-652-4393.
Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with unions, consulates, trade and professional organizations, faith and community-based organizations, businesses and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. The purpose of each alliance is to develop compliance assistance tools and resources and to educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities. Alliance Program participants do not receive exemptions from OSHA inspections. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/alliances/index.html.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).