AMERICAN SOCIETY OF SAFETY ENGINEERS

1800 East Oakton Street
Des Plaines, Illinois 60018-2187
847.699.2929
FAX 847.296.3769
www.asse.org

November 25, 2003

Charles Maresca
Assistant Chief Counsel
Small Business Administration
Office of Advocacy
409 Third Street, S.W. Suite 7800
Washington, DC 20416

VIA E-mail: Charles.Maresca@sba.gov

RE: Draft Rulemaking on Silica Standard for General Industry

Dear Mr. Dear Mr. Maresca:

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) appreciates this opportunity to provide comments on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) draft rulemaking concerning a silica standard for general industry. We understand the Small Business Administration's role in ensuring that regulations are effective in achieving their aims without unnecessarily burdening those who must follow them. Our brief comments on two issues in the draft are fully consistent with this purpose.

First, on page seven of the draft, ASSE supports and urges the inclusion of subparagraph (ii), which reads

Where the employer is using dry sand containing crystalline silicas as a blasting medium, and the blasting operation is conducted in open areas without containment, the employer shall ensure that the effectiveness of the regulated area, including the prevention of employee exposures above the PEL beyond the regulated area, is evaluated under the supervision of a Certified Industrial Hygienist or a Certified Safety Professional.

Supervision by a qualified safety, health, and environmental professional in this situation is a necessary safeguard against the particularly hazardous effects of crystalline silica dust overexposures to workers. Exposures in the sandblasting environment, where high amounts of respirable silica are present, can cause acute lung illnesses. In addition, crystalline silica has been classified as a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as well as by the National Toxicology Program.

The inclusion of a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) or a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) as an evaluator and/or supervisor of these regulated areas where intense exposure to silica is likely to occur is particularly appropriate where control methodologies must be maintained at optimal levels, and exposure levels must be regularly monitored, in order to adequately safeguard workers' safety and health. Both the CIH and CSP certifications demonstrate the highest levels of professionalism in managing occupational safety, health and environmental risks. Individuals with these credentials are widely accepted throughout industry for their professional capabilities, adherence to an ethical code of conduct, and demonstrated knowledge and experience. Their credentials are awarded by recognized and accredited certifying bodies, the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and the American Board of Industrial Hygiene. These bodies are accredited by the Council on Engineering and Scientific Specialties Board (CESB) or the National Commission on Certifying Agencies (NCCA), both of which are recognized in industry and in government as providing the highest level of certification accreditation.

Second, on page 24 of the draft, to ensure the effectiveness of the requirement in paragraph (m) that the "employer shall provide information and training for each affected employee," ASSE urges that the American National Standards Institute Z490.1 Standard entitled "Criteria for Accepted Practices in Safety, Health, and Environmental Training" be referenced. The standard, approved in July 2001, sets accepted practices for safety, health and environmental training to help employers and consumers select quality safety and health training materials, instructors and other program components. Z490.1 is also used to audit, monitor, evaluate and analyze the programs of training providers as well as the employee training activities of corporations and government entities seeking third-party review. The standard has already received recognition in other safety-related rulemakings by agencies within the U.S. Department of Labor.

Federal agencies were encouraged to utilize voluntary consensus standards by both Congress in Public Law 104-113, "The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995," and the Office of Management and Budget in its Circular A-119, "Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities." Thus utilization of Z490 is consistent with OMB directives and will conserve governmental and private sector resources by referencing a consensus standard that already has wide acceptance and proven efficacy.

More importantly, we are finding that employers are welcoming the ability to rely on the guidance that Z490.1 offers in helping determine how to go about assuring effective training. Outside of Z490.1, employers are left to sales pitches from the training industry itself to determine who and what they should train, resulting in lost expenditures and left-behind risks of injury and illness when training proves to be ineffective. Inclusion of Z490.1 in this rulemaking would help employers be better consumers of training products and services, and to better protect and train their workers.

Again, ASSE thanks you for the opportunity to review the draft standard and make these comments. We stand ready to assist in any way we can to ensure that this standard protects workers in ways that employers can understand.

Sincerely,

James "Skipper" Kendrick, CSP
President

cc: Steve Witt
Directorate of Standards and Guidance

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