A new website titled Concrete and Concrete Products Û Manufacturing and Construction has been established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/products/topics/concreteproducts/index.html. Through OSHA's Alliance Program and Strategic Partnership with the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, the agency notes, the page was created to help improve safety and health for the manufacture of concrete and concrete products and for construction work with concrete.
Detailed information regarding specific standards is available at the site, including their application to concrete production. For example, OSHA provides the following citation information in concrete production (manufacturing) and concrete construction (installation) categories:
FREQUENTLY CITED STANDARDS Û CONCRETE PRODUCTS MANUFACTURING
In order, the following standards were most frequently cited by federal OSHA inspectors from October 2004 through September 2005 in the Concrete, Gypsum, and Plaster Products Industry Group (SIC code 327):
- 1910.134 Û Respiratory protection
- 1910.147 Û The control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout)
- 1910.1200 Û Hazard communication
- 1910.146 Û Permit-required confined spaces
- 1910.23 Û Guarding floor and wall openings and holes
- 1910.95 Û Occupational noise exposure
- 1910.305 Û Wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use
- 1910.212 Û General requirements for all machines
- 1910.178 Û Powered industrial trucks
- 1910.219 Û Mechanical power-transmission apparatus
Of interest is the percentage increase in respiratory protection citations, which have overtaken the long-held first position maintained by hazard communication standard violations. Prolonged focus on silica exposures, specifically in the concrete products industry, may account for this change.
The key citation in respiratory protection is using paper or disposable respirators without an OSHA-compliant respiratory protection program in place. Nonvoluntary use of a dust mask, such as a disposable paper dust respirator, requires formulation and implementation by the employer of a written respiratory protection program Û with worksite-specific procedures. Included in a respiratory protection program must be the medical evaluation of employees by a physician, which can be conducted at a local industrial clinic.
FREQUENTLY CITED STANDARDS Û CONCRETE PRODUCTS CONSTRUCTION, INSTALLATION
In order, the following standards were most frequently cited by federal OSHA inspectors from October 2004 through September 2005 in the Construction Trade Contractors: Concrete Work Industry Group (SIC code 177):
- 1926.451 Û Scaffolding, general requirements
- 1926.501 Û Fall protection, duty to have
- 1910.1200 Û Hazard communication
- 1926.651 Û Excavations, specific requirements
- 1926.652 Û Excavations, requirements for protective systems
- 1926.100 Û Head protection
- 1926.21 Û Construction, safety training and education
- 1926.701 Û Concrete and masonry construction, general requirements
- 1926.404 Û Electrical, wiring design and protection
- 1926.503 Û Fall protection, training requirements
In this category, of particular interest is the increase in scaffolding and fall-protection citations, while hazard communication took third place. Taking note of this pattern, masons should have competent erectors set up scaffolds as well as crews thoroughly trained in scaffold use; proper tagging of scaffolds is also essential. The structure's rated capacity Û A, B, or C depending on load-bearing capacity Û should not be exceeded by the weight of mortar and block placed on the scaffold for laying.
Especially helpful for the safety professional is the convenient consolidation of standards interpretations as they apply to concrete. Following are various interpretations of interest to producers:
- Worker exposure to impalement hazards while constructing upper rebar mats over rebar protrusions from lower levels (2006, March 27).
- Impalement from reinforcing steel protruding horizontally (2006, March 10).
- Scaffolding/shoring (2005, April 11).
- Construction of homes with masonry walls not considered residential construction in applying STD 03-00-001 (2004, May 17)
- Fall protection and controlled access zones for overhead bricklaying (2004, March 10)
- Revised response regarding the storage of materials on a scaffold for more than one shift's work (2003, October 30)
- Enforcement of Subpart M Fall Protection (2003, September 11)
- Mortar testing requirements and controlling contractor responsibilities under the Steel Erection Standard (2002, December 27)
- Fall protection requirements for employees working from a work bridge in concrete construction work (2002, December 9)
- Steel erection concrete testing requirements and number of samples required to be taken (2002, November 19)
- Questions and answers regarding the respiratory protection standard (1998, October 16)
- Medical evaluation requirements under the respiratory protection standard (1998, October 5)
- Lift-slab bridge construction (1991, November 25)
- Respiratory protection tables (1989, December 18)
- Search all available standard interpretations
HEXAVALENT CHROME STANDARD REMINDER
Producers are again reminded to develop hexavalent chromium (and cadmium) respiratory data associated with welding operations by monitoring and documenting hexavalent chrome exposures. While the standard excludes exposures to hexavalent chrome in applications involving portland cement, it does not exclude welding associated with rebar and specialty reinforcement, nor does it exempt welding used in panel erection. Such exposure data is valuable to management in determining whether a written chrome program is necessary under the new standard, 29 CFR 1910.1026 (in effect since May 2006). For compliance, the permissible exposure limit (PEL) Û the magic number to meet Û is now five micrograms per cubic meter.
Hiring a certified industrial hygienist to take workplace samples is recommended to obtain reliable data. Additionally, per the noise standard, plants that have hearing-conservation programs should schedule periodic monitoring of workplace noise. For producers that have not had a noise survey conducted in some time, a CIH can monitor both items simultaneously.
The prudent producer would have the CIH write an opinion supported by the data and provide his or her seal on the report, much like an engineer signs and stamps a drawing. Once data is collected, the report should not entail significant cost, and its benefit is to provide evidence in the event of an inquiry by the OSHA inspector regarding hexavalent chrome exposures in the facility.
For producers lacking data or a sufficiently organized report, the OSHA inspector is likely to schedule a plant visit by an OSHA industrial hygienist for the purpose of taking samples. Should government regulators thereby discover overexposures, citations would include Û besides the overexposures Û noncompliance with numerous sections of the standard by virtue of not planning or implementing parts of the required written hexavalent chrome program. Subsequently, the producer would have to conduct independent monitoring by a CIH, as required in the standard, to verify the effectiveness of remedial measures to reduce exposures.
Preventive measures are fairly simple: an area fan blowing fumes away from the welder; open bay doors during the summertime; or, a local exhaust hood on a flexible spout during enclosed, cold-weather applications. In any case, monitoring will be required to verify that exposures have been reduced to 5µ/m3 by preventive measures. Should monitoring data reveal significant levels of hexavalent chrome, producers are also advised to check state and local air emissions regulations for possible permits or written permit exemptions for heavy metals emissions.
Given the construction standard for chromium, 29 CFR 1926.1126, hexavalent chrome monitoring is also recommended for concrete products installers who use welding. Accordingly, monitoring would be appropriate for precast/prestressed product installation where welding is required. Should monitoring reveal the presence of hexavalent chrome in quantities approaching or exceeding 5µ/m3, then a standardized written program must be implemented for the workplace.