OSHA Silica Rule Takes Effect June 23, 2018 With 30-Day Grace Period

 

By Avi Meyerstein, Husch Blackwell, LLP

OSHA’s new final silica rule that dramatically reduces allowable exposures to respirable crystalline silica takes effect this week for most employers. In particular, the rule kicks in on June 23, 2018 for employers in general industry, maritime companies, and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the oil and gas industry (for fracking, engineering controls still do not take effect until June 2021).

OSHA says it will still give these employers some time to adjust to the new rule, however. In a June 7, 2018 memorandum, OSHA announced a 30-day enforcement grace period. During this first month, OSHA says that it will assist employers that make a good faith effort to comply with the requirements under the new standard. However, if OSHA finds that an employer fails to make any effort to comply, the employer will be subject to air monitoring procedures and citations for non-compliance.

In their efforts to comply, employers should take advantage of available compliance assistance materials. As an introduction, OSHA published an overview of the new silica standard in a Small Entity Compliance Guide to help small businesses comply.

What does the rule require?

Generally, the new standard requires employers to:

  • Determine whether workers are or may reasonably be exposed to silica at or above an action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an 8-hour day.
  • Protect workers from respirable crystalline silica exposure above a PEL of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an 8-hour day.
  • Follow the hierarchy of controls by first employing engineering controls (such as reducing airborne dust using water or removing dust with ventilation) to reduce exposure as much as possible. Only then can employers rely on respirators to protect workers.
  • Limit employee access to areas with exposure levels above the PEL and offer medical exams to highly exposed workers.
  • Develop a written exposure control plan.
  • Train workers on the health risks related to silica exposure and methods to reduce the risks.
  • Maintain records of workers’ silica exposure and medical exams.

OSHA says that it has developed interim inspection and citation guidance to ensure compliance and uniform enforcement of the new standard. The agency says it intends to release these materials in the near future.

Although employers must now comply with the rule’s exposure limits, only some employers must comply this year with the rule’s requirements to offer medical surveillance exams to employees. Where employees will be exposed at or above the PEL for 30 or more days per year, medical surveillance must begin when the rule takes effect this week. However, where employees will only be exposed at or above the action level for 30 or more days a year, employers have two more years to comply. In those cases, they must offer medical surveillance exams beginning on June 23, 2020.

OSHA issues RFI to consider expansion of construction tasks and silica control measures

In a recent article concerning the lack of leadership for OSHA as nominee Scott Mugno awaits Senate confirmation, authors Leah Kaiser and Avi Meyerstein of Husch Blackwell LLP reported that OSHA has moved ahead with its Spring 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, outlining the current status of both pending and anticipated rulemaking efforts. OSHA looks as though it will have its hands full with twenty agenda items, up from fourteen on the Spring 2017 list.

In a new request for information, OSHA wants to determine if it should expand its list of construction tasks and associated control measures that construction workers can use to comply with its 2016 silica rule for construction. Table 1 of the rule listed dust control methods that employers could use for common construction tasks.

The purpose of the table is to provide a clear path for compliance. It spares construction employers from verifying exposure levels (with data and monitoring) if they employ accepted methods for controlling silica dust. Per OSHA: “Employers who fully and properly implement the engineering controls, work practices, and respiratory protection specified for a task on Table 1 are not required to measure respirable crystalline silica exposures to verify that levels are at or below the PEL for workers engaged in the Table 1 task.”

OSHA intends to use the additional information it gains in response to the RFI to revise Table 1 if deemed appropriate. OSHA currently classifies this rulemaking agenda item as “substantive, nonsignificant,” so it is unclear whether we should expect substantial movement in the near future.

OSHA Issues Silica Enforcement Memo

 

By Jackson Lewis P.C.

The silica standard for construction came into effect last year, on September 23, 2017, whereas most provisions of the silica rule as it pertains to general industry and maritime (29 CFR § 1910.1053) take effect this month, on June 23, 2018. The new standard for general industry and maritime imposes stricter permissible exposure limits (PELs) by establishing “a new 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, an action level (AL) of 25 µg/m3, and associated ancillary requirements.”

According to a June 8thmemorandum from OSHA, “OSHA will assist employers that are making good faith efforts to meet the new standard’s requirements.”  The Agency indicates that those employers will be treated more leniently than employers in situations where “it appears an employer is not making any efforts to comply.”

“If upon inspection, it appears an employer is not making any efforts to comply, compliance officers should conduct air monitoring in accordance with Agency procedures, and consider citations for non-compliance with any applicable sections of the new standard.

The determination as to whether an employer is or is not making a good faith effort to comply seems to be open to interpretation by the individual OSHA investigator.  The Agency appears to acknowledge this when it mentions yet-to-be-released “interim inspection and citation guidance” and refers to “effective implementation and uniform enforcement of the new standard.” (emphasis added)  This may in part be the reason why during the first 30 days of enforcement, any proposed citations for inspections carried out during this time period, will first have to go to OSHA’s National Office for review and approval before citations are actually issued.

A couple of publications produced by OSHA on the silica standard for general industry and maritime which may provide useful information are as follows:

Support requested for family of Julio Cesar Leiva of The Tile & Grout King

The Tile & Grout King employee suffered a fatal stroke at age 30 while on the job

NTCA member The Tile & Grout King, Inc., (T&GK) recently suffered a sad and sudden loss with the untimely passing of one of the company employees, Julio Cesar Leiva, at age 30.

Julio Cesar Leiva with his wife and young daughter

Hany Louis of The Tile & Grout King in Santa Clara, Calif., wrote, “It’s been a sad week for The Tile & Grout King Family. Julio Cesar Leiva was not only one of my most kind-hearted and hard-working employees, but he was like a brother to all of us. I am sad to say that a stroke took his life on Tuesday morning [June 12] while he was working. He was in his early 30s and had so much life left to live. He left behind a wonderful wife and a beautiful 10-month old daughter. We are all heartbroken over his loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and everyone that had the honor of calling him a friend.

“Today the awesome crew of the T&GK team put together $2,318 from their own pockets to help his family with all the unexpected expenses that they will surely have to deal with. The T&GK matched that amount, but any additional contributions would help his family out tremendously during these hard times that they’re going through.” A GoFundMe account has been set up to support the family at https://www.gofundme.com/julio-cesar-leiva.

Louis added, “Life is mysterious and no one knows when it’s their time to go. We hope that Julio knows that while he was taken from us so unexpectedly and at such a young age, he will always be a member of our family. We also hope that he will rest assured knowing that his family will be taken care of, because they are now permanently a part of our family.”

Landmark Ceramics shows Frontier20 novelties at Coverings 2018

Frontier20, offers a unique porcelain paver experience for outdoor application

Frontier20 M.P.D project porcelain pavers

Landmark Ceramics’ Frontier20 introduced the Multi Pattern Design (M.P.D.) project, designed to allow combinations of multiple size patterns and therefore develop creative and original outdoor design solutions. M.P.D. project is available in two different versions: M.P.D. Big & M.P.D. Small.

 

 

 

 

Frontier20 also adds to its wonderful line four new stone-look items. These colors are inspired by a mix of the finest and most contemporary natural limestones, making it a unique collection, ideal for designing in a free and versatile manner.

Frontier20 stone colors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frontier20 expands its selection with new sizes ranging from 12″x12″ to 24″x48″. Among those, two new wood looks in the highly demanded plank format 16”x48” have been added to satisfy the demand of the most accurate and attentive designers.

Frontier20 offers new sizes

Crossville’s Convergence Collection Awarded Silver at Best of NeoCon

New Glass Mosaic Line Recognized in Surfacing Materials and Finishes Category

Crossville, Tennessee – Crossville Inc. was recognized with a prestigious Silver Award for its new Convergence Glass Collection at the Best of NeoCon showcase on Monday, June 11, in Chicago at the kickoff breakfast to NeoCon 2018. Honored in the Surfacing Materials and Finishes category, the Convergence Collection is a stunning option for surfacing walls with the look of end-grain wood captured in rich, jewel tones and cast in polished glass mosaics.

“We’re excited that our Convergence collection is recognized as one of the best products at NeoCon. To earn the Silver Level award from an esteemed panel of interior designer and architect judges affirms how unique and innovative this collection is,” said Lindsey Waldrep, Crossville’s vice president of marketing.

The Best of NeoCon competition received 374 product entries in 41 categories and presented 81 awards. The competition is presented by Contract magazine and sponsored by NeoCon and The McMorrow Reports Facility Management & Design Insights. The Best of NeoCon jury is composed of 42 contract interior designers and architects, and corporate, healthcare, and institutional facilities management executives who are responsible for selecting and buying furnishings for their specific organizations.

For more information on the Convergence collection, visit crossvilleinc.com.

Homeowner Guide to Finding a Qualified Tile Installer Now Available from the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation

The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), which provides education and installer certification for professionals working in the ceramic tile and stone industry, has published a thorough online guide to finding tile installers specifically geared to homeowners.

“Finding a qualified tile installer can be challenging for homeowners who want someone with the experience and knowledge of how to install tile correctly, without taking shortcuts,” said Scott Carothers, director of training and certification for CTEF.  “They deserve an installation that looks beautiful and performs flawlessly long after that installer is gone. Hiring someone with the proper skill level to do it right the first time is critical to the ongoing use of tile products. That’s why we’ve put together this in-depth guide which focuses on the importance and value of using qualified labor.”

Qualified Labor for Tile Installation

Qualified labor refers to having the most qualified professional perform the specified scope of work rather than basing the decision on the lowest price. The lowest price almost always fails to provide a quality installation complete with unmet consumer expectations.

The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Handbook committee strongly recommends using installers who have demonstrated their commitment to their craft and taken the time to stay current with the latest materials and methods.  Because tile is a permanent finish, the lowest bid should not be the driving factor, but rather who is the most qualified to perform the scope of the work specified.

The Handbook further defines qualified labor as being provided by the following non-profit organizations and programs:

  • The Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT),
  • The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF),
  • The International Masonry Institute (IMI) Contractor College Program,
  • Journeyman Tile Layer Apprenticeship Program,
  • The Marble Institute of America (MIA) Accreditation for Natural Stone Tile Installation Contractors,
  • The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) Five Star Contractors Program,
  • The Tile Contractors’ Association of America (TCAA) Trowel of Excellence Program.

From a technical perspective, qualified labor means having successfully demonstrated a tile installer’s skills that meet tile industry standards and best practices. That is what the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program does. The CTI designation identifies the professional installer who has reached a level of proficiency to independently and consistently produce a sound tile installation that displays good workmanship. It is the only third-party assessment of tile experience and knowledge.

Certified Tile Installers routinely demonstrate the knowledge, skill, experience, time management abilities and other traits needed to produce high-quality, long-lasting, successful installations using tile industry standards and methods along with time-tested proven best practices which are in place in the United States.

An In-depth Resource Available in Two Formats

The CTEF Homeowner Guide to Finding a Qualified Tile Installer is available online in two formats:

  • A 31-page pdf document that can be downloaded and read
  • An in-depth web page that can easily be read and/or scanned regardless of device whenever it’s needed.

All visuals in the guide represent actual Certified Tile Installer (CTI) installations.

The Certified Tile Installer Program

The CTEF Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program is the only third-party assessment of installer skill and knowledge which is recognized by the tile industry. It offers homeowners peace-of-mind that their tile installer has the right skills to complete a successful tile installation.

The CTI designation identifies the professional installer who has reached a level of proficiency to independently and consistently produce a sound tile installation that displays good workmanship. Certification is the validation of the skills and knowledge of the men and women who presently are installing tile successfully in the United States.

To qualify for the CTI Program, installers must have at least two years of experience as the lead installer setting ceramic tile on a full-time basis. This means having full responsibility for substrate prep, layout, coordinating with other trades along with properly installing underlayment, tile, grout and sealant materials.

The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) which sponsors the CTI program is supported by all segments of the ceramic tile industry. CTEF is headquartered in Pendleton, South Carolina, near Clemson University and near the offices of the Tile Council of North America (TCNA).

To access the guide, please visit https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/homeowners-guide-to-hiring-qualified-tile-installer.

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About the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation

The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) provides training education and installer certification for professionals working in the ceramic tile and stone industry. Certification programs include the CTEF Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program which is the only third-party assessment of installer skill and knowledge to be recognized by the tile industry, and the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT). For more information, visit https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org.

Follow CTEF on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ctilef, on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CeramicTileEducationFoundation/, and on Google+: https://plus.google.com/+CeramictilefoundationOrg

Modomo announces the winners of its Coverings 18 promotion.

The company celebrates a successful launch of Modomo Tiles at Coverings 18.

Coconut Creek, FL, June 7, 2018 – Modomo is proud to announce a successful launch of the brand, Modomo, and the winners of Modomo’s door prizes at Coverings 18.  A trip for two to Italy was the first prize of the drawing. Second and third prizes were awarded also.

John and Kelly Naramore of Triangle Tile won Modomo Tile’s Trip to Italy at Coverings 18.

John and Kelli Naramore of Triangle Tile of Raleigh, NC are the proud winners of the Trip to Italy furnished by Modomo Tiles.  John and Kelly said, “We are so excited to be going to Italy. We couldn’t be happier than doing business with Modomo Tiles!”

Runners up included:  Louis Rutigliano of Classic Tile & Marble of NY, winner of the 2nd prize—a smartphone—and Paul Merola of Merola Tile NY, winner of the 3rd prize—an UHD 55” LED TV.

Scott Alpert, Modomo’s Managing Partner, is very pleased with the great success Coverings 18 was for Modomo’s official launch.  Scott said, “From being in the tile industry for almost 37 years, I was very pleased with the exposure and business Modomo received as a result of the show.”

Modomo is a U.S.-based holding company, run by industry veterans, providing the finest Italian tile to the U.S. and Canadian markets. Partnering with one of the most successful Italian tile manufacturers, Modomo is committed to providing beautiful collections and superior sales and training support together with aggressive pricing models.

 

 

wedi North America Celebrates Official Factory Grand Opening in the United States

BATAVIA, IL, June 8, 2018 – wedi North America celebrated the official factory grand opening along with a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the landmark event. wedi management and staff, local and state officials, and wedi customers, partners and supporters attended the ceremony. Guests also had the chance to tour wedi’s new state of the art production facility on American soil.

Stephan Wedi, Managing Partner of the wedi Group, cuts the ribbon on the new facility in Batavia, Ill.

The new facility serves as both a corporate office and factory, which has created a substantial number of new jobs for the local community. Celebrating the start of domestic production, wedi management continues on its path to implement its defined growth and internationalization strategy which includes this investment in wedi quality products proudly made in the USA. The production capacity is designed to cover the demand in the North American regions in the coming years.

The new facility serves as both a corporate office and factory, which has created a substantial number of new jobs for the local community.

The wedi German and North American Management Team proudly display wedi Building Panel – Engineered in Germany, Made in the USA.

Bastian Lohmann, wedi North America’s Director, reflects on wedi’s new venture in the U.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The opening of the US production line compounds wedi’s commitment to this industry, the North American market and the US economy. Stephan Wedi, Managing Partner of the wedi Group states “The local production of building panels, is aimed at significantly increasing our local competitiveness in the market place and the securing of a most dependable supply chain safety for our customers in the North American market”

Reflecting on wedi’s new venture in the US, Bastian Lohmann, wedi North America’s Director comments, “Here in the upper American Midwest we not only found the environment for state of the art production, the people and technology needed, but also the vendors for raw material and complementary product. We are proud that we have them with us, we are proud of what we make, and we are extremely competitive with any other product – no matter where it’s made.”

About wedi

wedi GmbH, based in Emsdetten, is the leading manufacturer and supplier of construction products designed for tiled wet room and shower systems, including tileable, watertight tile backer building panels and prefabricated shower systems in Europe and North- America. With innovative system solutions and guaranteed system reliability, wedi today offers globally sustainable complete solutions for wet rooms. The family company, founded in 1983 by Helmut Wedi, today employs around 400 members of staff and is active in more than 30 countries.

 

 

Knauf and USG Agree to Transaction at $44 Per Share in Cash

Provides Knauf with Lasting Presence in North American Wallboard and Ceilings;
Enhances USG’s Position Worldwide

USG’s Headquarters to Remain in Chicago

IPHOFEN, Germany & CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Gebr. Knauf KG (“Knauf”) and USG Corporation (NYSE:USG) (“USG”) today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement pursuant to which Knauf will acquire all of the outstanding shares of USG in a transaction valued at approximately $7.0 billion. Under the terms of the agreement, USG shareholders will receive $44.00 per share, which consists of $43.50 per share in cash payable upon closing of the transaction and a $0.50 per share special dividend that would be paid following shareholder approval of the transaction. The price represents a premium of 31% to USG’s unaffected closing price of $33.51 and a 36% premium to the $32.36 average closing price for the preceding 12-month period, both as of March 23, 2018, and a multiple of approximately 11.6x USG’s adjusted EBITDA for the 12 months ended March 31, 2018. The transaction was unanimously approved by USG’s Board of Directors. Berkshire Hathaway has agreed to vote its shares in favor of the transaction. As of June 11, 2018, Berkshire Hathaway and its subsidiaries owns approximately 31% of the issued and outstanding shares of USG.

The combined company results in a global building materials industry leader that will maximize Knauf and USG’s highly complementary businesses, products and global footprint to better meet the needs of both companies’ end-market customers. Following the close of the transaction, USG will continue to be managed locally in the United States, and Knauf intends to maintain USG’s existing corporate headquarters in Chicago as well as its facilities in North America.

Alexander Knauf, General Partner of Knauf, said, “We are excited to enter into an agreement to acquire USG. As a long-term USG shareholder, we greatly admire USG’s strong brands, leading market positions in North American wallboard and ceilings and highly talented employee base. We look forward to building on USG’s strong presence in North America.”

“As a family-owned company with a long-term focused business outlook, we believe Knauf is the ideal partner for the business as we intend to make significant investments in USG’s operations and its people,” added Manfred Grundke, General Partner of Knauf. “Our long-term investments will benefit all of USG’s stakeholders, including employees, customers and suppliers.”

Jennifer Scanlon, president and chief executive officer of USG, said, “Our Board has worked diligently to evaluate all strategic options to maximize value for our shareholders, and we are pleased to have reached this agreement which provides our shareholders with significant and certain cash value. We believe this transaction will create new opportunities for both companies’ customers and will benefit USG’s employees who will be part of a truly global building products company. Alexander, Manfred and their team have made clear their high regard for our team, and we are confident that Knauf will help to ensure the long-term success of USG’s operations, brands and employees.”

The transaction is expected to close in early 2019, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and approval by USG shareholders.

The transaction is not subject to any financing conditions. The transaction will be financed from existing cash and committed debt financing.

Morgan Stanley Bank AG is serving as the exclusive financial advisor to Knauf, and Baker McKenzie LLP, Shearman & Sterling LLP and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer are acting as legal counsel to Knauf. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC are serving as financial advisors to USG, and Jones Day is acting as legal counsel to USG.

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