Health and safety leadership means that you never need to catch up with best practices and new regulations governing the proper care of your employees and the safety of their working environments. By making an investment in worker protection and safety, you lower your risks and insurance costs while increasing employee morale and productivity. It’s a win-win-win proposition.
As part of our mission, Meridian Construction continuously innovates to stay current or ahead of the curve in workplace safety as well as advanced construction technology. For example, OSHA made a significant rule change last year to toughen the standards on “Respirable Crystalline Silica” for construction sites. We immediately decided to get out front and address this health and safety issue head-on.
“Clearing the Air” on Silica Dust Issues
Potentially harmful silica dust is caused by various construction activities such as:
- Stone cutting and grinding
- Concrete drilling
- Concrete grinding and polishing
- Joint cutting with handheld or walk-behind saws
- Shot blasting
Excessive or long-term exposure to inhaling air that contains silica dust can cause chronic respiratory problems and severe lung disease. According to OSHA’s Fact Sheet on Silica Dust Control, “respirable particles can travel deep into workers’ lungs and cause silicosis, an incurable and sometimes deadly lung disease. Respirable crystalline silica also causes lung cancer and other potentially debilitating respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease. In most cases, these diseases occur after years of exposure to respirable crystalline silica.”
As we clearly see, the silica dust problem on construction sites must be mitigated to remain at safe levels, especially considering the prolonged exposure of multiple work days in certain construction environments.
Bust the Dust for Better Worker Health!
Keeping true to our commitment to employee health and safety, we recently became the second construction firm in the entire state of New Hampshire to fully adopt and implement OSHA’s stringent new standards on respirable crystalline silica in the workplace, which took effect in September 2017.
Meridian Construction worked closely with Hilte North America’s dust control division, a unit that makes dust control products for construction tools, to assure that we meet or exceed all requirements of the new OSHA rule.
Hilte Happens to be a leader in design, manufacturing and marketing of state-of-the-art line dust control systems for certain construction equipment. Some of these systems are fully adaptable to much of the machinery already in use. We appreciate their help in showing us how to properly fit our various drilling, sawing, and cutting tools as well as guidance in ventilation and the proper use of the dust control and collection systems.
Tackling the silica dust problem head on is one of many examples of our commitment to quality and safety innovation. It’s good for our people and it also enhances the cleanliness of our client’s projects.
As we’ve stated elsewhere, Meridian Construction renews our investment in people and quality through education, safety, equipment and technology applications. We’re happy to report that, regarding overall safety, Meridian just scored 100 percent on our Workers Comp annual safety review.
While some may feel that more stringent environmental and safety rules only add more cost to engineering and construction projects, we believe differently. Taking a leadership position by continually investing in the future of our people, we not only lower risks but we continually experience higher employee morale and productivity which results in lower costs and higher quality work.