The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule to curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America's workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The rule is comprised of two standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime.  About 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush, or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone and 300,000 workers in general industry operations may be affected. Key Provisions of the rule include:

  • A reduction in the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
  • A requirement for employers to: use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
  • A requirement for employers to provide medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health.
  • A requirement for employers to provides flexibility to help employers — especially small businesses — protect workers from silica exposure.

Both standards contained in the final rule take effect on June 23, 2016. Construction Companies will need to comply with the new rules by June 23, 2017, one year after the effective date. General Industry and Maritime have until two years after the effective date. 

For more information on how this might affect your business, contact Steve Valentine at 315-263-3183 or svalentine@greystone-env.com.