OSHA is amending its existing standards for occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica. OSHA has determined that employees exposed to respirable crystalline silica at the previous Permissible Exposure Limits face a significant risk of material impairment to their health. The evidence in the record for this rulemaking indicates that workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica are at increased risk of developing silicosis and other non-malignant respiratory diseases, lung cancer, and kidney disease. This final rule establishes a new permissible exposure limit and Specific Exposure Control Methods.
Standards took effect on June 23 of 2016, after which industries must comply, based on the following schedule:
Construction - September 23. 2017, 15 months after the effective date. General Industry and Maritime - September 23, 2018, two years after the effective date
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 and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
Provides flexibility to protect workers from silica exposure and provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers.
Employers can apply 1 of 3 options for compliance: Option 1 Specified Exposure Control method provided in Table 1 of the standard or Alternate Exposure Control methods options 2 and 3 which both require workers' exposure to silica to be below the Permissible Exposure Limit.
Table 1 identifies 18 common construction tasks that generate high exposures to respirable crystalline silica and for each task, specifies engineering controls, work practices and respiratory protection that effectively protect workers.
Employers who fully and properly implement the controls and practices specified in Table 1 ARE NOT REQUIRED to measure silica exposure to verify that levels are at or below the PEL for workers engaged in the Table 1 task.
Employer may rely on objective data from the manufacturer, providing evidence the exposure level is below the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of ≥ 50 averaged over an 8 hour work day when a task is performed, under the tested conditions.
Makita performed testing to determine the operator's exposure level to respirable crystalline silica dust. The purpose of the test was to produce “objective data” required for compliance under the exposure assessment option of OSHA respirable crystalline silica standard, 29 CFR 1926.1153(d)(2)(ii) when the task is performed under the same conditions tested by Makita.