OSHA Publishes Final Crystalline Silica Rule

NOTE: There have been changes to the dates for this rule. See this post for the most up-to-date information.

In an effort to reduce cases of lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease in workers, OSHA has issued a final ruling that will limit exposure to respirable crystalline silica. It is estimated that the new rule will save over 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year. There is a standard for Construction and a standard for General Industry. Both standards take effect on June 23, 2016. Construction must be in full compliance by June 23, 2017, and General Industry must be in full compliance by June 23, 2018.

The main requirements of the new ruling are as follows:

  • The permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica is reduced to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8 hour shift.
  • Employers are required to use engineering controls such as water or ventilation to limit exposure. Respirators shall be provided when engineering controls are insufficient.
  • Worker access to high exposure areas is limited.
  • A written exposure control plan that identifies tasks that involve exposure and methods of protection shall be developed and implemented.
  • Medical exams (including chest x-rays and lung function tests) shall be offered every three years for workers who are required to wear a respirator for 30 days a year or more.

To learn more visit OSHA’s Final Rule to Protect Workers from Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica webpage.

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