On September 23, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released the final rule for occupational exposure to respirable silica dust. This rule is designed to eliminate the harmful effects of respirable crystalline silica dust to workers in the construction industry. In this rule, OSHA reduced the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) from 250µg/cubic meter to 50 µg/cubic meter for an 8-hour Time Weighted Average (TWA).
Respirable crystalline silica is produced by the drilling, cutting, and grinding of materials that contain silica. These materials include concrete, stone, slate, tile, asphalt filler, roofing granules, caulking, plaster and many others. The key points of the final rule include:
- Requires personal air monitoring to measure employee exposure levels and determine if engineering controls and/or protective equipment need to be implemented.
- Reduces the permissible exposure limit to 50 µg/cubic meter.
- Requires employers to use engineering controls (like water or ventilation) to reduce exposure.
- Provide respirators to employees exposed above the PEL.
- Identifies and limits high exposure areas.
- Employers must create a written plan to control exposure and train employees on the risk of silica exposure.
- Provide medical exams to employees with high exposures to silica.
Duncklee & Dunham provides our clients with staff to help implement these new requirements. Our experts can develop personal air monitoring data plans, conduct exposure assessments, create written respirator plans, conduct respirator fit testing, create written exposure control plans, and train employees on the risks associated with respirable silica dust exposure. We can help you get into compliance with OSHA’s silica rule.