OSHA Could Revise Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard

Revisions to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) respirable crystalline silica standard could be coming in the future. The administration published a request for information (RFI) in August 2019 seeking comments and exposure data, which could assist OSHA in assessing whether revisions are appropriate.

OSHA requested information on the effectiveness of engineering and work practice control methods not currently included for the tasks and equipment listed on Table 1 of the respirable crystalline silica standard for construction. It’s also seeking information about tasks and equipment involving exposure to respirable crystalline silica that’s not currently listed on Table 1.

OSHA is also interested in information on the effectiveness of methods in limiting worker exposure to silica when performing those tasks. OSHA is also gathering information about whether there are additional circumstances where it would be appropriate to permit employers covered by the standard for general industry and maritime to comply with the silica standard for construction. Comments were due on October 15, 2019.

BACKGROUND

The silica rule is intended to limit workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica. It reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for workers to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour shift. It also requires employers to implement engineering controls, offer medical exams and develop control plans related to the issue.

Enforcement began September 23, 2017.

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