April 17, 2017 – As many organizations know by now, Federal OSHA has issued a new respirable crystalline silica standard for general industry and construction. State OSHA programs, like Minnesota’s, have adopted the rule in its entirety.
The rule lowers the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air for an 8-hour time-weighted average (50µg/m3) and also covers engineering, protective clothing, medical surveillance and other issues. The initial date of enforcement for construction was June 23, 2017, but that date has been delayed until Sept. 23, 2017.
Don’t Delay, Take Steps Now
OSHA expects employers in the construction industry to continue to take steps either to come into compliance with the new PEL or implement specific dust controls for certain operations as provided in Table 1 of the standard*. Construction employers should also continue to prepare to implement the standard’s other requirements, including exposure assessment, medical surveillance, and employee training.
For general industry employers or non-construction tasks and operations, the enforcement date remains June 23, 2018 with the following exceptions: medical surveillance (June 23, 2020) and hydraulic fracking engineering controls (June 23, 2021).
Both standards require employers to limit worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica and to take other steps to protect workers.
The rule allows employers to tailor solutions for silica conditions in their workplaces. If the standards apply to you, ask yourself the following questions.
- Does your company have a program?
- Has my company conducted an employee exposure evaluation?
- Does my company have a written exposure control plan? If not, download this Exposure Control Plan template* to get started.
- Has my company conducted industrial hygiene air monitoring?
If your answer is no to any of these questions or you would like assistance with air monitoring, contact your North Risk Partners Risk Advisor.
* Downloadable content is reserved for North Risk Partners clients. Login credentials are needed to download the content. If you don’t know your login credentials, please contact your North Risk Partners Risk Advisor.
This regulatory update is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice. Content provided by our professional consulting partners at Integrated Loss Control, Inc.