The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released its final rule on occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The rule consists of two standards, one for construction and the other for general industry and maritime.
The final rule contains the following provisions:
- Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-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.
The rule will take effect June 23rd, 2016. To read the full text, click here.