By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

ARTBA and 24 other construction industry trade groups are asking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for a one-year delay in the scheduled June 23 effective date of new limits on allowable worker exposure to crystalline silica dust. Such a postponement would give the construction industry the same June 2018 compliance deadline as other general industry employers.

“The silica standard has set up construction employers for failure, by establishing requirements that are unattainable and unworkable in many instances,” the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) says in a March 10 letter to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Among the problems, the letter says, tool manufacturers have not yet developed equipment with adequate dust-control measures as required by the regulation. Also, OSHA has not provided guidance on how it will interpret and enforce key provisions of the rule.

“OSHA is in effect requiring construction employers to ‘guess’ as the effectiveness of controls and ‘hope’ that they meet an unattainable permissible exposure limit,” the letter says.

A response from the Labor Department is not expected until after the Senate confirms a new agency secretary. Meanwhile, ARTBA is among the plaintiffs of an industry lawsuit against the regulation, which is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.