On June 23, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) passed their final rule on crystalline silica exposure requiring employers to lower the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for their employees and employ engineering controls to limit exposure on the job site. The first compliance date for the new Silica Standard for those in the Construction Industry was originally set for June 23rd, 2017, however, OSHA recently announced that they’ve delayed the enforcement date to September 23, 2017.
Citing the need for additional guidance, OHSA’s delay of the compliance/enforcement date will give employers additional time to meet the new guidelines. In case you missed our original post on the updated Standard, here’s a recap of the key components of the update:
- PEL for respirable crystalline silica has been lowered to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air.
- The new PEL is to be averaged over an 8-hour work shift.
- The new rule includes a provision for medical exams to monitor employees with high exposure.
- Employers must employ engineering controls like water or ventilation to limit exposure, provide respirators for employees, and limit access to high exposure areas among other requirements.
Related Course: 2-Hour Silica Hazard Awareness Seminar
Between now and the new compliance date, Construction employers will still be required to meet the new standard for engineering controls, or implement the dust controls listed in Table One of the standard and all the other requirements including the provisions for exposure assessments, medical surveillance, and training. You can read the full press release from OSHA below:
U.S. Department of Labor | April 6, 2017
OSHA to delay enforcing crystalline silica standard in the construction industry
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced a delay in enforcement of the crystalline silica standard that applies to the construction industry to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers.
The agency has determined that additional guidance is necessary due to the unique nature of the requirements in the construction standard. Originally scheduled to begin June 23, 2017, enforcement will now begin Sept. 23, 2017.
OSHA expects employers in the construction industry to continue to take steps either to come into compliance with the new permissible exposure limit, or to 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.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.