THREE MONTH DELAY
In an unexpected move the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a news release pertaining to the upcoming silica standard enforcement. The prior date set for the crystalline silica standard to be enforced for the construction industry was June 23rd of this year. This news release now pushes the enforcement date back three months to Sept. 23rd. The stated reason is “additional guidance is necessary…”. Read the full news release below.
Why the OSHA Silica Enforcement Delay?
We work extremely close with several major STAFDA houses and we can confirm there is much confusion within the industry pertaining to the compliance of many products and techniques. We believe this confusion has been expressed to OSHA and they felt the delay was necessary to allow more time for compliance.
If you are one of the end users of products related to the production of silica dust you undoubtedly know about the confusion first hand. Most end users we encounter are in dark even after reading official OSHA silica standard documentation as to what products are required for compliance. This is where the message and solutions must be relayed by the tool suppliers and manufacturers. But there still seems to be some disconnect in this area.
The first step in compliance is having a full assortment of approved products at the ready. Some manufacturers are better than others for either bringing products to market or for making the information available on their offerings. We have seen some good efforts being put forth by Dewalt in this area. They have made an honest effort in rolling out marketing material both internally and externally for educating dealers on the looming enforcement and what products they offer as solutions. Just because you offer a product doesn’t mean a dealer or end user will know its a solution to their silica dust needs nor do they know how to use it correctly. I’m not talking about the actual compliant vacuums here. This is more of an issue with guards, vac attachments and the like. It would be great to see a full OSHA silica dust compliance chart offered by each manufacturers listing most of the common tasks and then have a flow chart of product solutions. For an example say you are needing to do some tuck pointing. They could then list a grinder, tuck point wheel, compliant dust shroud, vac hose adapter, and compliant vacuum. It seems simple right? But as of this point if manufacturers have such marketing material they make it hard to find, it’s incomplete or it just for particular methods/tasks and not a full solution overview.
An end user rarely turns directly to tool manufacturers for their tool needs. Rather they see their partner within the tool industry which is their professional tool supply house. Most of the good tool suppliers will have educated sales staff with knowledge of common compliance issues. But the more confusing an issue is such as OSHA silica dust enforcement we have seen suppliers turn from an informed solution provider to an order taker. If the suppliers are not able to see through the muddy waters they can only wait for their customers to ask for particular products to piece together a compliant solution.
Tool Manufacturers & Suppliers Need Better Communication
After reading the above two paragraphs you can glean where we are heading with our feelings on the OSHA silica dust compliance. The tool manufacturers MUST take the lead on this and work very closely with their dealers to put together a detailed solution packet of what compliant products they offer and what operations their products cover. Make this information very easy to follow and educate your dealer network to relay this to their end users in a confident way.
Looking For Feedback
If you are an end user impacted by the upcoming OSHA crystalline silica dust enforcement we would love to hear from you. Please let us know what your experience has been in meeting compliance and how your local dealers have been in helping you.