Resources to Work Safely with Silica & Comply with the New Standard

The new silica standard for the construction industry went into effect on September 23, 2017 and was upheld by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in December.  Several Building Trades unions provided testimony and evidence in support of the standard because it will reduce our members’ risk for serious, often fatal illnesses.  OSHA estimates that this standard will prevent more than 600 deaths and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year.  An online resource, Work Safely with Silica ( developed by CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training, can help our members and employers understand what is required to comply with the standard.

Written Exposure Control Plan

This free planning tool can be used by contractors to comply with the requirement to have a written exposure control plan.  The planning tool guides the user through three steps:

Step 1 – “Will you generate dust containing silica on the job?” 

This step includes a list of materials that contain silica, and for each one, a list of tasks (e.g., abrasive blasting, etc.).  An employer can select multiple materials and tasks that will be performed using each material.  If the contractor is not sure if a material contains silica, there’s a prompt at the bottom of the screen, “learn more.” Clicking on this link provides four different ways to find out if a material contains silica.  Once the materials and tasks have been selected, the “Continue” button turns green and can be clicked on to proceed to Step 2. (See Figure 1)

Figure 1

All of the materials and tasks selected in Step 1 automatically appear in this step, along with a list of equipment control options for each combination.  Similar to Step 1, if the user is not sure how to best control the dust, there are four different options to help them (Figure 2 – A).  For each equipment control option listed, a user can find commercially-available options and related information by clicking on the prompt above the list (Figure 2 – B).   There is space for the user to add specific details about where and how the materials and equipment controls will be used on the project.  Once the equipment-control options are selected, the “Complete” button will turn green and the user can proceed to the 3rd and final step.

Figure 2

Step 3 – Complete your Silica Control Plan

This is the final step.  All of the information entered for Steps 1 and 2 automatically appears in this step. There is space to fill in the remaining information that must be included in the written exposure control plan and there is a ‘click here’ prompt to learn more about what should be covered for each of the following:

  • The competent person who will be responsible for ensuring the plan is carried out
  • Procedures for restricting access to minimize exposures when respirators are required
  • Training that will be conducted
  • Housekeeping activities
  • Medical surveillance

There is also space for the company name, the project name and description, the person who is completing the plan, and space for other information the user would like to include in their plan. (Figure 3)

At each step, the contractor can go back and edit their plan.  While registering is not required to use the planning tool, contractors that register can confidentially save their plans.  Saved plans can be retrieved and edited in the future.  Registration only requires an email address—no company or personal identifiers are collected—and all plans are completely confidential.

Figure 3

Once Step 3 is completed, clicking on the green “Complete” button generates a complete written exposure control plan that can be emailed, saved as a PDF, printed—and if the contractor has registered—saved for future use.  (Figure 4)

Figure 4

This new standard also includes some unique provisions, including new approaches to specified control methods and medical monitoring. CPWR has developed resources to help workers and contractors understand what these provisions mean and how to comply.

Specified Control Method or Table 1

What is Table 1?  Other health standards require employers to conduct air monitoring—in other words, to take samples of the air workers breathe to make sure they are not being exposed to a substance, in this case silica, above the permissible exposure level (PEL) allowed by OSHA.  In this standard, OSHA included another option referred to as the “specified control method” or Table 1.  Table 1 lays out specific types of equipment, work practices, and respiratory protection, which, if fully and properly implemented, relieves the employer of having to do air monitoring.  To help employers and workers use Table 1, CPWR developed Table 1 – Equipment Names and Best Practice Tips.  This document includes OSHA requirements and tips from manufacturers, workers and contractors for how to implement the equipment-controls listed.

Medical Monitoring

OSHA also included a new approach to medical monitoring and reporting in this standard.  Employers must provide a medical exam to employees who are required to wear a respirator for 30 days or more per year, because they are performing work covered by the standard.  The exam must be offered:

  1. Within the first 3 days of being assigned work covered by the standard; and
  2. Every three years after the initial exam, if the worker is still required to wear a respirator for 30 days or more per year under the standard. Even if you wear a respirator for a short period of time during a day, that time counts as a day.

When you have this exam, the health care provider will provide you with a detailed medical report that explains the test results.  The employer only receives a medical opinion that includes the date of the exam, a statement that the exam met the requirements of the standard, and any limits on your use of a respirator.  The health professional cannot provide the employer with any other medical information without your permission.  This provision was included in the standard to protect workers’ privacy and encourage workers to have the exams.  When you have the exam, the employer is required to give you a copy of the medical opinion

It is important that you keep your copy of the medical opinion so that you can use it to show future employers that you have had the exam and avoid unnecessary exams and tests.  The CPWR Medical Monitoring Under the OSHA Silica Standard for the Construction Industry – Guide for Employers was developed to help employers understand the requirements, but it can also answer questions that you may have.  There’s also a Physician’s Alert on silicosis and silica-related illnesses that we encourage you to bring to your health care provider to make sure that you are properly diagnosed and treated.

For quick references to help you understand the silica hazard and ways to protect yourself, see CPWR’s Hazard Alert Card (Advertencia de Peligro) or Toolbox Talk (Español).

If you still have questions or want to share information about new equipment and work practices that you are seeing on the job to control silica dust, please email

Another Step Toward Glazier Certification

This week, in Hanover at the IUPAT International Training Center, members of a committee representing labor, contractors and manufacturers gathered for two days to work on a glazier certification program being developed by AMS. Administrative Management Systems, Inc, (AMS) provides single contact coordination of certification and inspection services between fabricators and installers of fenestration products (glass, windows, doors, skylights, glazing systems).

The IUPAT met with glazing industry contractors, manufacturers and specialists to draft curriculum for the glazier certification program.

The IUPAT is working with fellow glazing industry specialist to develop both a worker glazing certification, and one for contractors.  This meeting served as a step closer for the worker certification by drafting the written part of the certification testing, as well as reviewing the physical based testing.

USGlass Magazine Covers the Glazier Certification Initiative

This was a big step in getting the glazing certification program recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in late 2018 or early 2019, and in the field. The committee will meet again in the fall of 2018 to continue their work.

LMCI Teaches Fundamentals of Successful Contracting

The LMCI now offers a new course for IUPAT members and employers that provides students with the critical business knowledge to succeed in today’s construction industry.

The Fundamentals of Successful Contracting program is targeted at individuals who are seeking to advance in their field or aspire to run their own company.  The two-week program introduces the fundamental knowledge necessary for strategy development, financial management, operational effectiveness and strong project management.

Students will learn the essentials in managing and building a business through classroom instruction, workshops, case studies and hands-on exercises. The tuition for this program is $3,000

Courses include:

  • Cash Flow Strategies
  • Aligning Strategy with Business Development
  • Employment and Business Law
  • Fundamentals of Insurance and Bonding
  • Estimating
  • Project Planning and Scheduling
  • Supply Chain Management

Click or call the LMCI at 888-934-6474 or for more details and a program schedule.

LMCI Estimating Essentials Class Up and Running

A class for the “apprentice” estimator who may be a recent hire into your estimating operation, or an up and coming journey worker or foreman whose skills you want to further develop.

The new LMCI Estimating Essentials class is currently being scheduled across North America with new classes announced almost weekly.

This two-day course includes classroom and hands-on practice of estimating from review of documents through quantity takeoff, calculation of all direct and indirect costs and concluding with the total price bid.

The apprentices work with mentors on projects in the Finishing Trades and the course is designed to illustrate both the basic and comprehensive series of steps that produce winning bids.


  • The Estimate and the Estimator
  • Contracts and Other Bid Documents
  • Quantity Takeoff
  • Direct Costs
  • Indirect Costs, Contingencies and Overhead
  • Common Errors Made and How to Avoid Them
  • Practice Estimates
  • Internet Resources and Tools

Watch the video below to see what students who have taken the class have to say, and check the registration page on to see if we are holding a class near you in the coming year.

New Report: It would take 37 Years to Fix or Replace U.S. Structurally Deficient Bridges

The nearly 48,000-mile Interstate Highway System literally moves the U.S. economy.  It carries 75 percent of the nation’s heavy truck traffic.  A new report finds there is the equivalent of one “structurally deficient”-rated bridge, on average, for every 27 miles of our major highway network.  The 1,800 structurally deficient Interstate bridges are crossed 60 million times daily.

When it comes to bridges needing attention, however, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

According to an analysis of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s just released 2017 National Bridge Inventory database, 54,259 of the nation’s bridges are rated structurally deficient.  If placed end-to-end, they would stretch 1,216 miles, or nearly the distance between Miami and New York City.

Cars, trucks and school buses cross these 54,259 compromised structures 175 million times every day, the data show.

The pace of improving the nation’s inventory of structurally deficient bridges slowed this past year.  It’s down only two-tenths of a percent from the number reported in the government’s 2016 data.  At current pace of repair or replacement, it would take 37 years to remedy all of them, says Dr. Alison Premo Black, chief economist for the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), who conducted the analysis.

Noting President Trump is expected to address the nation’s infrastructure challenges in his Jan. 30 “State of the Union” address, Black says, “An infrastructure package aimed at modernizing the Interstate System would have both short- and long-term positive effects on the U.S. economy.”  Traffic bottlenecks, she says, costs the trucking industry alone over $60 billion per year in lost productivity and fuel, which “increases the cost of everything we make, buy or export.”

To help ensure public safety, bridge decks and support structures are regularly inspected for deterioration and remedial action. They are rated on a scale of zero to nine—with nine meaning the bridge is in “excellent” condition.  A bridge is classified as structurally deficient and in need of repair if the rating on a key structural element is four or below.

While these bridges may not be imminently unsafe, they are in need of attention.

Other key findings in the ARTBA analysis:

  • Iowa (5,067), Pennsylvania (4,173), Oklahoma (3,234), Missouri (3,086), Illinois (2,303), Nebraska (2,258), Kansas (2,115), Mississippi (2,008), North Carolina (1,854) and New York (1,834) have the most structurally deficient bridges. The District of Columbia (8), Nevada (31), Delaware (39), Hawaii (66) and Utah (87) have the least.
  • At least 15 percent of the bridges in six states—Rhode Island (23 percent), Iowa (21 percent), West Virginia (19 percent), South Dakota (19 percent), Pennsylvania (18 percent) and Nebraska (15 percent)—fall in the structurally deficient category.

State—and congressional district—specific information from the analysis—including rankings and the locations of the 250 most heavily travelled structurally deficient bridges in the nation and top 25 most heavily traveled in each state—is available at


Union Membership Numbers Rose in 2017

The Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual Union Members Survey today, and it indicates that union membership grew in 2017.

The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.8 million in 2017, edged up by 262,000 from 2016.

One of the more interesting aspects of that growth is that young workers under 35 are a significant part of it – representing three quarters of those new members.

Other highlights from the 2017 data:

  • The union membership rate of public-sector workers (34.4 percent) continued to be more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.5 percent).
  • Workers in protective service occupations and in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rates (34.7 percent and 33.5 percent, respectively).
  • Men continued to have a higher union membership rate (11.4 percent) than women (10.0 percent).
  • Black workers remained more likely to be union members than White, Asian, or Hispanic workers.
  • Nonunion workers had median weekly earnings that were 80 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($829 versus $1,041). (The comparisons of earnings in this release are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be important in explaining earnings differences).
  • Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (23.8 percent), while South Carolina continued to have the lowest (2.6 percent).

See the full details of the report HERE.


IUPAT Crew at SSPC 2018

In New Orleans, members and leaders of the IUPAT represented the union on the exhibit floor of SSPC 2018, and participated in meetings and demonstrations with coatings industry professionals from around the world.  Hosted and run by the Society for Protective Coatings, or SSPC, a leading authority on coating technology and application, this annual event covers issues surrounding surface preparation, coating and application, project management, research, testing and technology.  Topics and education crucial for industry leaders, including the men and women of the IUPAT who work every day on bridges, shipyards and elsewhere applying the coatings that fight corrosion.

FCA International: Stronger Together for 21 Years

FCA Members and Friends,

As of today, January 11, FCA International has officially cleared its 20th year. On this day 21 years ago, a group of industry-leading contractors and association executives met on a chilly day in the basement of the Chicago O’Hare Airport to form your international contractor association.

Anthony Darkangelo
Chief Executive Officer
FCA International

From the very beginning, FCA’s vision has been to build a better future for the families of signatory finishing contractors, and that’s a vision we still share today. FCA has grown into a force for change in our industry over its short history, and that is thanks to the dedication, passion and leadership from the FCA community.

Congratulations to FCA’s founding fathers whose vision and dedication got our association off the ground. Congratulations to our board members, past and present, who have taken time away from their businesses and families to lead our association. Congratulations to our Affiliates who have been invaluable local partners. Congratulations to our industry partners who have worked with us to accomplish things neither could accomplish alone. Last but not least, congratulations to each and every FCA contractor member and their teams for providing our association a purpose and for helping to build a better future for our industry.

It is because of your involvement that FCA has grown into an international association with more than 7,000 contractor members and more than 55 Affiliate associations.

Thank you to all who have helped steer this ship for the past two decades. We look forward to continuing the vision laid out by our founding fathers and building a better future for all our families.

This is your association. Be proud!

Anthony Darkangelo
Chief Executive Officer
FCA International

Construction Employment, Spending and Optimism All on the Rise for 2018

Despite some mixed messaging by the Trump Administration this week, Congress and the President are determined to pass through an infrastructure bill.  With that, industry numbers indicate a robust construction economy for 2018.

CNBC reports that, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Labor, the construction industry added 30,000 jobs in December, construction industry spending set a record at $1.257 trillion in November and construction contractor optimism is also at an all time high.

“For all of 2017, construction added 210,000 jobs, a 35 percent increase over 2016,” CNBC went on to report.

Other indicators for a healthy construction market include:

  • Three quarters of construction firms reported that they play to increase payrolls in 2018.
  • Contractors are most optimistic about office construction in the job market.

However, the primary concern among contractors remains that there will be a severe worker shortage for what promises to be a busy construction season.  A point that Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), countered in a recent letter to the editor in The Washington Post.  The Building Trades stand ready and are committed to put the required amount of men and women to work through recruitment and training, as along as there is a fair day’s pay at the end of the job waiting for these workers.

Read the CNBC article HERE.