Silica Task Force Holds August Meetings, More Scheduled in September
On August 12 and 13, the Silica Task Force, spearheaded by the MCAA, held two days of meetings in Washington, D.C. to review silica exposure data obtained from the National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH), discuss the need to collect additional data, solicit technical assistance from NIOSH to provide peer review of other data and further refine the mission statement and overall goals of the Task Force.
Clearly the research on silica exposure done by NIOSH to date is very useful in helping the task force focus on specific tasks where we have higher exposure levels, but because some of their testing was done in a laboratory environment it is not necessarily practical for our purposes. The group therefore decided that it would continue to seek out other sources of data and encourage contractors and local chapters to perform exposure testing independently in order to have a broader range of more current data collected at various job sites.
Each of the members of the Task Force was assigned specific NIOSH data to analyze and summarize the findings for the next meetings in September. Those summaries will then be used to begin writing our proposed alternatives to limiting silica dust in construction. This set of alternatives will be task based and very comprehensive, recommending not only specific engineering controls, but types of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and possible administrative controls to be implemented in order to prevent employee exposures to silica.
Our goal is to put as much information about each task and attempt to address varying conditions in as precise a format as possible. We will compare our recommendations to those included in OSHA's draft standard as well as some of the guidelines presented by outside groups and tailor them in a manner that will ensure that they are achievable without being overly burdensome and costly. It is still our goal to have a set of alternatives ready to present to Assistant Secretary John Henshaw by the end of October.
This is a monumental task, but one of paramount importance to the stability of our industry and I'm grateful for all the support of the Task Force and MCAA members who have so generously contributed their time and effort to the cause. I'll have further updates for you after the next meetings September 9 and 10. In the meantime, should any of you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-671-4468.
About the Author
Marian J. Marshall was the Director of Government Affairs for the Mason Contractors Association of America.