A change may be coming to silica standards, with a recent two-pronged proposal finding its way into public consideration. The first is a Request for Information (RFI) regarding the expansion of what’s commonly known as “Table 1” from section 1926.1153 of the Federal Register, which provides details on the levels of silica protection for most tasks and equipment on a given worksite.
As OSHA explained in their press release regarding the RFI, the goal of the proposal is to “seek information on additional engineering and work practice control methods to effectively limit exposure to silica for the equipment and tasks currently listed in Table 1.” Additionally, OSHA states that they are “also requesting information about other construction equipment and tasks that generate silica that it should consider adding to Table 1, along with information about their associated engineering and work practice control methods.”
This update, which would be placed in the Federal Register, is something that OSHA hopes will “provide flexibility” for employers when it comes to adhering to regulations, while “maintaining protection for employees”. The other half of the proposal hopes to extend the flexibility past the field of construction into Maritime and General Industry, allowing employers to choose less stringent construction standards if a given situation calls for it.
Given the wide range of affected workers, these proposals are definitely worth keeping an eye on and, possibly, lending your voice and expertise to. If you’re interested in doing so, the proposal is currently open for comment until October 15th.