OSHA Standards: Spring 2018 Update

OSHA Standards: Image of protective ear phones hanging on a metal rack. There is a light blue background. Text reads "OSHA Updates: Spring 2018".

Spring is upon us and so are OSHA standards implementations. No matter your business, industry, or job title, updates to OSHA standards should be treated with urgency. Not only are these updates designed with the purpose of keeping your employees safe, they’re also implemented to ensure your business has healthy conditions for customers.

If you’re unaware of what OSHA is, let’s do a quick overview. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) was founded in 1971 by President Richard Nixon to lay down guidelines for obtaining safe working conditions for men and women in the work force. In order to reduce workplace hazards, OSHA puts in place various standards and guidelines that businesses must follow in order to be deemed suitable for employees and visitors.

Recently, OSHA has made updates to its guidelines. Supplize was fortunate enough to learn of these changes from John Lawhorn of Catto & Catto out of San Antonio, Texas. Lawhorn visited the Chamber of Commerce to address upcoming OSHA changes.

Two of the biggest upcoming changes are Silica Standard Changes and Subpart D Walking Working Surfaces. Both of these implementations will affect businesses in the general industry, so read on to learn how your company can be prepared to make improvements in order to avoid a daunting fine.

Silica Standard Changes

First off, what is silica? Well, silica is anything like Silicon Dioxide, Quartz, Cristobalite, Dioxosaline, Diatomaceous earth, Tridymite, Silicic anhydride, sand, and more.

Why is OSHA so concerned with silica? Exposure to silica can cause silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or kidney disease. Employees exposed to cutting, sawing, drilling, or crushing of products are probably interacting with silica. Look out for tools such as vehicle-mounted drilling rigs, jackhammers, handheld powered chipping tools, handheld grinders, driveable milling machines, crushing machines, heavy equipment, and utility vehicles.

Now on to the meat of the story — how your company can comply with the Silica Standard Changes. For most industries, it’s best to develop an Exposure Control Plan. This Exposure Control Plan can include training or measuring workers’ exposure to silica.  Then you decide which dust controls to use, implementing engineering/PPE control methods. For construction companies, you need to designate a competent person, abide by table 1 (seen here), or measure workers’ exposure to silica and decide which dust controls to use.

Subpart D Walking Working Surfaces

This might sound like a complicated standard, but its interpretation is quite simple. All places of employment with regards to Walking Working Surfaces must be kept in a clean, orderly, and sanitary condition. In simpler terms, this means Walking Working Surfaces must be free of hazards such as sharp or protruding objects, loose boards, corrosion, leaks, spills, snow, and ice.

Any distribution companies and warehouses wanting to be prepared for their next OSHA inspection? Make sure to develop an inspection schedule to check racks or electrical wires. Inspect whether forklifts need to be certified. Make sure your floors are clear and that clutter has been swept away.

And there you have it. Those were the two biggest updates to OSHA standards for spring 2018. For more information on OSHA standards, click here.