Much like construction employers did this time last year, general industry employers are hoping for a last minute reprieve from OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica regulation, scheduled to take effect on June 23. As of this writing, that’s nine days away.
It’s not uncommon for OSHA to temporarily delay or postpone enforcement of new regulations for 30-90 days after the originally-scheduled effective date passes. In fact, OSHA actually delayed enforcement of the construction version of this regulation, not once, but twice last year.
But it appears that there’s no such luck for employers affected by the general industry version of the same rule. Therefore, all employers covered by the rule, will be required to be in nearly full compliance by June 23 (there are some provisions which won’t take effect until later).
While a nearly identical version of the regulation aimed at construction employers took effect last year, this version affects only general industry employers (loosely defined as any employer outside of the agriculture or construction industry).
Industries which will be hardest hit by this regulation include; foundries, glass manufacturing, any employer engaged in sand blasting, tool and die, brick/block manufacturing, china manufacturing, stone engraving, including tombstone engraving, countertop fabricators and installers, etc.
The new regulation creates dozens of new safety requirements for employees with exposure to respirable crystalline silica.
- The permissible exposure limit (PEL), which is the maximum allowable airborne exposure, averaged over the course of an 8 hour workday, has been cut in half, from 100 micrograms/cubic meter, to 50 micrograms. In addition, an Action Level (AL) of 25 micrograms per cubic meter has also been implemented.
- Nearly all employers whose employees have ANY exposure will be required to develop a written exposure control program.
- All employees will be required to have safety training on silica. In Minnesota, and certain other states, the training will be required annually. In addition, supervisory staff and managers should have a more detailed and comprehensive training on the same topic.
- Respiratory protection will be required in many cases.
- Some employees will be required to undergo medical surveillance.
- Creating restricted areas where exposure to crystalline silica may exceed applicable limits.
- Provide ventilation and other engineering controls to minimize dust exposure.
For more information on the regulation and its requirements, you can access a fact sheet from OSHA here.
Sotera Consulting has worked with several construction and general industry employers on this issue with great success. Most of our clients are in full compliance already.
However, if you haven’t addressed these new requirements yet, don’t despair. We can help with tasks such as developing the mandatory written exposure control program, air sampling and ventilation, employee and supervisory training, etc.
If you have questions, or would like to discuss these requirements or how we can help, please call Paul at (612)597-6463 or email firstname.lastname@example.org