Volume 49, Issue 6 - June 2014


Industry, Unions Grapple with OSHA Silica Rulemaking

Stakeholders in the glass industry continue to assess the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposal to reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of crystalline silica. The rule governing exposure to silica and the PEL have not been updated for more than 40 years. Proponents of the rulemaking, such as unions that handle silica, are quick to reference the distant year of 1971 when arguing that the PEL needs to be revisited.

“We want to protect workers from silica,” says Steve Rank, director of safety and health for Ironworkers International. “We know that it’s bad for you, and there’s no question this is a bad thing to be exposed to if you work around it every day. We want OSHA to promulgate standards that are going to protect workers.”

Under the proposed rule, workers’ exposures would be limited to a new PEL of 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air (µg/m3), averaged over an eight-hour day. The new PEL would be the same in all industries covered by the rule.

Some industry groups have called for the proposed rule to be withdrawn. They argue the PEL is arbitrary and not based on science, as well as that it would be next to impossible to implement.

Anthony Darkangelo, CEO of the Finishing Contractors Association, said he recently spent half his day on the issue. The advocacy side of his association, which he says includes more than 1,300 glazing contractors, is made up of committees representing various industries; FCA’s contractor members are signatories to agreements with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT).

“First of all, health and safety is first and foremost, and should be everybody’s concern,” Darkangelo says. “Second of all, we’ve got to take a look at the scientific side of it and look at all the details, and say, what does this mean [in terms of application]?”

IUPAT’s stance on the matter is clear. “The right thing for us to do is move forward, lower the PEL and take care of everybody,” says Sarah Coyne, executive assistant director of the IUPAT Finishing Trades Institute, who testified at the OSHA hearings.

At the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Building Envelope Conference in March, Ace Glass’s Courtney Little discussed that in order to comply with the proposed rule, workers would have to “use HEPA vacuums, wet methods and no dry sweeping,” adding “I can’t imagine a jobsite without a broom.”

Coyne says, though, “We’ve already crossed these bridges collectively as it relates to lead exposure,” she says. “It’s not ‘don’t use a broom.’ It’s ‘don’t dry sweep.’” She says with such basic tools as sprayers put to use, “A little bit goes a long way, and a little bit of water is a lot less expensive and a lot less collateral damage than dry sweeping.”

Public hearings concluded in early April. Those who submitted a timely notice of intent to appear at the hearings had until June 3, 2014 to submit post-hearing comments; post-hearing briefs are due July 18, 2014, according to an OSHA spokesperson. “OSHA will then review all materials in the rulemaking record and will prepare a final rule based on the evidence in the record to send to [the Office of Management and Budget] for review.”

A target date has not been established for issuing a final rule, according to OSHA.

AAMA Updates Testing Options within Flashing Specification
An updated version of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association’s (AAMA) 712-14, “Voluntary Specification for Mechanically Attached Flexible Flashing,” is now available. The document is designed to establish minimum performance criteria to allow the user to evaluate and select mechanically attached flexible flashing products intended for use around the exterior perimeter of fenestration products.

As a basic component for integrating a fenestration product with a building’s water resistant barrier (WRB), appropriate material specifications for flashing play an important role in planning for effective and reliable installation. Accordingly, AAMA publishes consensus standards for self-adhesive flashing (AAMA 711), mechanically attached flashing (AAMA 712) and liquid-applied flashing (AAMA 714).

The changes to AAMA 712 were instituted primarily to coincide with those made to the similar AAMA 711, which was published in July 2013 by the Flashing Task Group.

“The test method for accelerated UV aging is the focus of the most significant change made to both AAMA 712 and the earlier release of AAMA 711,” says Jim Katsaros of DuPont Laminating Solutions, chair of the Flashing Task Group. “The change adds a modified version of the ASTM G155 Xenon Arc Test as an alternative to the ASTM G154 test method. This provides manufacturers and test laboratories with more flexibility in conducting the required test and, according to AAMA approved component labs, results in a better representation of actual sunlight exposure.”

© Copyright 2014 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.