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Silica/Asphalt Milling Machine Partnership Celebrated at World of Asphalt

UnknownGroup marks successful 10-year effort to ensure worker safety; New best practices guidance from NIOSH and field guide from NAPA/CPWR released

With a variety of new equipment and innovations as a backdrop, members of the Silica/Asphalt Milling Machine Partnership were recognized during World of Asphalt 2015. The ceremony last week marked the successful completion of the partnership’s efforts to develop and validate engineering controls for silica dust in asphalt milling operations.

The Silica/Asphalt Milling Machine Partnership — which is made up of the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), milling-machine manufacturers, labor, academia, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) — has worked over the past decade to design, test, and implement engineering controls for milling machines that effectively reduce potential silica exposure below OSHA’s new proposed permissible exposure limit (PEL).

During the ceremony, Dr. Christine Branche, Director of the Office of Construction Safety and Health at NIOSH, spoke on the devastating effects of crystalline silica exposure and highlighted the recent release of an asphalt milling best practices document to ensure milling machine worker safety. “Some 1.7 million U.S. workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in a variety of occupations, including road and highway workers,” Branche said. “It is incurable, but completely preventable.” Also released was a field guide developed by NAPA and CPWR — The Center for Construction Research and Training covering best practices for milling operations.

“Thanks to this constructive partnership between industry, equipment manufacturers, labor, and regulators, engineering controls that ensure worker protection during roadway milling operations will soon be standard equipment on milling machines,” said NAPA President Mike Acott. “It shows the sort of progress that can be made when government, labor, and industry work together, in a voluntary fashion, to address real-world issues.”

Copies of the NIOSH guide, “Best Practice Engineering Control Guidelines to Control Worker Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica during Asphalt Pavement Milling,” can be downloaded from http://go.usa.gov/3cseQ. The CPWR/NAPA “Field Guide for Controlling Silica Dust Exposure on Asphalt Paving Milling Machines,” can be downloaded from http://goaspha.lt/1DxPbLr.

The World of Asphalt ceremony also included comments from NAPA Chairman Michael Cote, Executive Vice President & Chief Development Officer at Lane Construction Corp.; Donald “Chip” Booth, Safety and Health Director at the International Union of Operating Engineers; Scott Schneider, Occupational Safety and Health Division Director at the Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America; and James H. Bevill, Chief Engineer of Cold Planers at Roadtec Inc.

About The National Asphalt Pavement Association

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) is the only trade association that exclusively represents the interests of the asphalt producer/contractor on the national level with Congress, government agencies, and other national trade and business organizations. NAPA supports an active research program designed to improve the quality of asphalt pavements and paving techniques used in the construction of roads, streets, highways, parking lots, airports, and environmental and recreational facilities. The association provides technical, educational, and marketing materials and information to its members; supplies product information to users and specifiers of paving materials; and conducts training courses. The association, which counts nearly 1,100 companies as members, was founded in 1955.

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New Silica Proposal Relies on Flawed Economics, ARTBA Tells OSHA

ARTBA NewsA proposed Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulation concerning exposure to crystalline silica is based on decades old data and flawed economics, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) says.

At issue is OSHA’s plan to regulate the worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica.  Crystalline silica is found in nearly all transportation construction materials and products and can even be found naturally in the ambient air.

In comments submitted to OSHA February 11, the association contends the agency is attempting to set crystalline silica exposure limits at levels which are unworkably low.  Specifically, ARTBA pointed to studies OSHA relied upon in formulating the new rule which date back to the 1930s, and do not take into account both technological and modern safety advancements that have dramatically reduced the negative health effects from crystalline silica exposure.

ARTBA noted OSHA might be doing more harm than good with its proposal, citing portions of the rule that could require workers to wear respiratory devices.   “When coupling the necessity of strenuously working in high heat, amongst heat generating materials while wearing a respirator, OSHA is creating a significant, real danger to human health that far exceeds the potential hazard from silica exposure,” ARTBA said.

The association’s comments also took aim at the basis of OSHA’s economic analysis, noting the agency’s source information is difficult to verify and “the true per company cost of meeting the proposed standards” was unknown.  “By averaging the cost of compliance across all workers, this could potentially understate the costs of compliance for businesses that could not meet the new standard,” according to ARTBA.

The full text of  the comments can be found in the “regulatory affairs” section of www.artba.org.

Established in 1902, ARTBA is the transportation construction’s primary advocate on environmental and regulatory matters in the Nation’s Capital.  ARTBA files an average of 25 sets of regulatory comments per year representing the views of the transportation construction industry on a variety of issues.