On March 25, 2016, OSHA published its Final Rule for reducing exposures to respirable crystalline silica and will become effective on June 23, 2016 in two separate standards for general industry and maritime, and for general construction. After more than a decade of review, OSHA estimates that 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica associated with the following industrial sectors:
- Asphalt roofing materials
- Concrete products
- Cut stone
- Dental laboratories
- Porcelain enameling
- Pottery and structural clay products
- Ready-Mix Concrete
- Support Activities for oil and gas operations
OSHA estimates that when the standards become fully implemented, more than 600 lives will be saved each year and more than 900 new cases of silicosis, a progressive and incurable lung disease, will be prevented. Other health effects that can result from exposure include, lung cancer, other non-malignant respiratory diseases, and kidney disease.
Provisions of the new standards include:
- Eight-hour time-weighted average Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) reduced to 50 µg/m3 and establishment of 25 µg/m3 Action Level (AL).
- Engineering or work practice controls to limit exposures to the PEL
- Provision for respirators when controls cannot achieve the PEL.
- Limited access to regulated areas.
- Medical exams and surveillance
- Housekeeping restrictions.
- Written exposure control plan.
Important Dates to Remember:
- June 23, 2016: General Industry and Maritime Standards (1910.1053) and General Construction (1926.1053) become effective.
- June 23, 2018: General industry and maritime employers must comply with all requirements except:
- June 23, 2020: Medical surveillance must be offered for employees exposed at or above the AL 30+ days per year (Medical surveillance must be offered for all exposed above the PEL 30+ days a year 6/23/16).
- June 23, 2021: Hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry must have engineering controls in place to limit exposures to the PEL