Volume 50, Issue 5 - May 2015


Report Says OSHA Made a $4.5 Billion Mistake in Silica Rule Costs

OSHA was off. Way off.

That’s according to a new report by the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC), which found that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed silica standards for the U.S. construction industry will cost $5 billion per year—roughly $4.5 billion per year more than OSHA’s estimates. The coalition consists of 25 construction trade associations that came together in response to OSHA’s proposed rule on silica for the construction industry.

OSHA’s proposed rule, intended to drastically reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of crystalline silica for the construction industry, was underestimated by the agency to cost the construction industry about $511 million a year.

“The cost and impact analysis from OSHA reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the construction industry,” a CISC statement reads. “The OSHA analysis included major errors and omissions that account for the large discrepancies with the CISC report.”

The report estimates that about 80 percent of the cost ($3.9 billion/year) will be direct compliance expenditures by the industry such as additional equipment, labor and record-keeping costs. The remaining 20 percent of the cost ($1.05 billion/year) will come in the form of increased prices that the industry will have to pay for construction materials and building products such as glass, among others.

According to the CISC statement, this will then be passed down to customers in the form of higher prices and will mean “significant” job losses for the construction industry and the broader economy.

The CISC estimates that the proposed regulation would reduce the number of jobs in the U.S. economy by more than 52,700 yearly. That figure includes full-time construction industry jobs, jobs in related industries such as building material suppliers, equipment manufacturers and architects, as well as losses in non-construction sectors. Factoring the many part-time or seasonal jobs in, that could increase that number to close to 80,000 positions lost.

“This report clearly demonstrates OSHA’s lack of real-world understanding of the construction industry and raises serious questions about their ability to responsibly craft industry standards,” says Geoff Burr, vice president of government affairs for the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of America. “We hope that this report will lead OSHA to withdraw its proposed rule and work more closely with the construction industry to emphasize compliance with the current standard.”

The Glass Association of North America (GANA) has also spoken out against OSHA’s proposed rule. Speaking about the CISC assessment, Bill Yanek, GANA executive vice president, adds that the cost and impact analysis from OSHA reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the construction industry.

“OSHA’s proposed requirements, as they apply to flat glass manufacturing, also are neither technologically nor economically feasible, or require extensive plant downtime to alter (keeping in mind that flat glass manufacturing plants operate non-stop for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year, for multiple years),” says Yanek. “All of these factors will lead to very costly and damaging impacts brought on by the OSHA proposal.”

At press time, OSHA had not responded to USGlass magazine’s requests for comment.

New Certification Program Aims to Put Glazing Community Ahead of Curve

It’s time for the glazing community to step up its game—or at least prove that its game is already there.

That was the general thinking in establishing the new North American Contractor Certification for Architectural Glass and Metal (NACC) program, which was developed through the sponsorship of the Finishing Contractors Association (FCA International) and the administration of Administrative Management Systems (AMS), the accredited body operating the program.

According to its website, the voluntary program provides “professionally administered third-party certification of [architectural glass and metal] contractors,” with areas of focus in the program including business practices, quality, competency and safety.

Nick Carrillo, Western region vice president of FCA International, says NACC was implemented primarily because the contractor community wanted “to raise the bar” in the industry. “They want to give the owners and end users value,” he says. “They want to be able to stand behind work they’re doing.”

John Kent, president of AMS, adds, “There was a general interest by the people involved early in a need to elevate the overall performance of architectural contract glazing.” He says that while no one necessarily likes added regulation, those involved in the program felt it was better to get ahead of the curve with self-policing rather than have it eventually come from an outside entity.

Companies that apply for certification undergo evaluation of submitted documents and an on-site assessment. They are required to correct deficiencies before gaining certification and listing in the program. Participating companies will have to meet annual requirements, including an audit, to maintain certification.

Last year, a procedural guide for the program was developed, fine-tuned and voted on by a balanced NACC governing board. It was completed in mid-December 2014, and in July 2015 the first round of certified companies will be announced publicly. According to Kent, the program will continue to adapt and adjust over time, but the board thought it was important to get the process going this year. He says there will be an annual meeting held in the fall, where any requirement
revisions can be discussed.

AMS is currently pursuing accreditation for the NACC program with ANSI.

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