Nearly two decades in the making, OSHA announced on Friday, August 23, comprehensive rulemaking on Crystalline Silica Exposures for General Industry, Maritime and Construction (the Mine Safety and Health Administration is anticipated to announce similar rulemaking in December).
With nearly 800 pages posted about crystalline silica on the OSHA website, we have not had time to analyze the proposal in any detail. However, we will offer a high-level analysis of the main provisions based on our preliminary review.
MAJOR PROVISIONS OF THE PROPOSED GENERAL INDUSTRY/MARITIME STANDARD - Provisions for employers to:
- Measure the amount of silica that workers are exposed to if it may be at or above an action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an eight-hour work day;
- Protect workers from respirable crystalline silica permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an eight-hour work day;
- Limit workers' access to areas they could be exposed above the PEL;
- Use dust controls to protect workers from silica exposures above the PEL;
- Provide respirators to workers when dust controls cannot limit exposures to the PEL;
- Offer medical exams - including chest X-rays and lung function tests - every three years for workers exposed above the PEL for 30 or more days per year;
- Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure; and
- Keep records of workers' silica exposure and medical exams.
The relevant OSHA information on crystalline silica can be found at https://www.osha.gov/silica/index.html