Final Rule on Crystalline Silica Will Take Effect in June

by Kacey Larsen

Washington, DC – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule on crystalline silica, which is comprised of two standards: one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime. OSHA estimates about 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including 2 million construction workers who cut, drill, crush or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone.

Key provisions of the rule include:

  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
  • Requires 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.
  • Provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health.
  • 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, after which industries have one to five years to comply with most requirements. The Construction industry must be compliant by June 23, 2017, one year after the effective date.

OSHA will continue to issue updates on compliance assistance materials and events, and learn about OSHA’s on-site consulting services for small business. Learn more about the final crystalline silica rule here.

Learn more about the Construction Industry Safety Coalition’s response to the final rule here.

Update: Eight construction industry organizations, including the NAHB, have filed a petition for review of OSHA’s final crystalline silica rule with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Learn more here.

Update: NARI continues to work with the CISC and OSHA to ensure remodelers know what’s coming and understand what the final crystalline silica rule means for them. Learn more here.

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