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Compliance is still a work in progress for OSHA's six-month-old silica enforcement rule say building industry professionals. Many are still seeking practical ways to meet the new standards and educate workers on compliance requirements, which took effect September 2017.

“There is still a long way to go to total compliance,” Steve Smithgall, senior vice president for national safety and operations at commercial contractor Balfour Beatty Plc in Fairfax, Va., told Bloomberg Environment.

As of April 17, there have been 116 violation citations, the most common of which involved contractors failing to measure silica levels. Acceptable levels of silica dust were lowered by 80% in 2016, and industry pros are still busy making people aware of the change.

Although the rule took effect in September, federal inspectors were initially instructed not to cite employers if the contractors were attempting to comply with the rule. Full enforcement began Oct. 23.

OSHA issued its first citation Nov. 8 and through the end of the year cited just 20 violations. In February, 50 violations were cited, followed by 19 in March.

80% of the cases were classified as serious violations. The rest were for other-than-serious violations as they were not an immediate threat to workers. While OSHA can propose serious violation fines as high as $12,934, the most costly proposed penalty was $9,239. An informal settlement knocked the fine down to $6,929.

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