April 18, 2016—The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced Friday its final rule on occupational exposure to respirable crystalline Silica, the basic component of soil, sand, granite and other materials that become respirable when workers chip, cut, grind or drill.
The final rule includes 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 23 and can be read in full on the Federal Register’s website.