As of October 23, 2017, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is now fully enforcing finalized provisions of the silica rule for the construction industry. Employers are now required to limit access to high exposure areas, provide training, provide respiratory protection when controls are not enough to limit exposure, provide written exposure control plans, and measure exposures in some cases.
One week prior to the rule’s execution, OSHA released interim enforcement guidelines for the silica rule that provide inspection and citation guidance in addition to charts for assessing employers’ efforts to control workers’ exposure to silica. This memorandum will guide construction companies and regional administrators on its set requirements while the final compliance directive moves through the review process.
Those who do not comply with the new standard will be subject to a maximum fine of $12,675 for a serious or other-than-serious violation; $12,675 per day past the abatement date for a failure-to-abate violation; and $126,749 for a repeated or willful violation.
The silica rule has very clear requirements. Two areas of significant importance are:
- Reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
- Employers must use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
If you have questions about the silica rule or compliance, contact Sy-Klone at firstname.lastname@example.org.