Director, Construction Materials Safety Policy
Cement is an essential component in concrete, an irreplaceable building material that is the literal building block of modern society. It is at the foundation of our national economy thanks to its role in providing the safe, sustainable, and resilient transportation and infrastructure works that we all rely on every day. But despite cement’s critical role in our lives, there is one resource valued above all others throughout the industry: our workers.
The cement industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the United States, including strict health and safety rules and regulations followed at every plant and distribution site across the country. Cement, as part of the mining sector, is one of the only industries with a unique agency dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of workers: The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). All other industries are regulated solely by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), where there is less than a 5% chance a business will be randomly inspected in any given year. In contrast, every cement plant in the United States will be inspected by MSHA at least twice per year to ensure all mandatory health and safety rules and regulations are being adhered to. Health and safety are more than priorities in the cement industry – they are core values.
Respiratory health has a long history within the cement industry, and it is a topic of consistent focus. Cement manufacturing is a multifaceted and sometimes dusty process, which is why strict respiratory protection programs are created, maintained, and followed to protect workers from hazards like fumes, total dust, and Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS). Cement plants must also consider all other conditions that could affect miner health, such as noise and hazardous materials, and ensure a healthy workplace is provided. Hearing conservation programs are established where workers see an audiologist annually to monitor a worker’s hearing and make necessary changes to maintain hearing, such as minimizing time exposed to noise or altering personal protective equipment (PPE). Hazard communication programs, also known as HazCom, are formally established at each site and include processes and procedures all employees or those important materials onsite follow to ensure everyone is aware of any potential hazard associated with materials present onsite.
Recent Health News:
Workplace safety is paramount at all stages of cement production, from the first stages of quarrying to the final steps of packaging and distributing the finished product. Operators must ensure that all mine equipment is inspected and maintained, including all conveyors, manufacturing and processing equipment, and mobile vehicles. Each site has an annual outage period when the kiln is shut down and maintenance is conducted inside the kiln itself in addition to other primary parts used in production. Housekeeping – like addressing trip, slip, and fall hazards – is another high priority area, and operators must keep work areas clean and walkways clear. Workers must also have access to all necessary personal protective equipment needed to do all jobs safely, such as hardhats, boots, gloves, eye and hearing protection, fall arrest systems, and high-visibility clothing. Recent rule changes at MSHA amended how workplace exams are conducted prior to a miner beginning work in an area to ensure hazards have been identified, documented, and mitigated and a current area of focus for MSHA is the utilization of safety technology such as proximity detection and collision avoidance systems in mobile equipment.
Recent Safety News:
PCA has been a proud Alliance partner with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) since 2008. The MSHA-PCA Alliance brings together industry with agency staff to improve worker health and safety through education, training, outreach, and communication. PCA staff and OHS members meet with the Assistant Secretary and senior MSHA staff twice annually to discuss health and safety issues and collaborate to improve worker health and safety. Key trainings have been developed over the last decade to enhance awareness about prominent safety issues, and regular safety newsletters are sent to PCA member company CEOs to keep them apprised of safety data trends and ways to continually improve their safety programs. PCA and MSHA have recently come together to create a team dedicated to creating a Cement 101 program with an anticipated release in 2021.
Recent MSHA-PCA Alliance News: