OSHA to Delay Enforcing Crystalline Silica Standard in the Construction Industry

Instead of beginning on June 23rd, 2017, enforcement of OSHA’s Crystalline Silica Standard will now begin on September 23rd, 2017. OSHA determined that, because of the construction standard’s unique requirements, additional guidance is necessary.

The agency expects employers to continue either taking steps to become compliant with the new exposure limit, or implementing dust controls for certain operations, as well as implementing the other requirements.

Common construction tasks such as the operation of masonry saws, drills, jackhammers, crushing machines, and other equipment can cause exposure to crystalline silica. Exposure can cause a plethora of problems, such as silicosis, kidney disease, lung cancer, and other respiratory diseases.

The new silica standard requires employers to take steps to protect their workers, such as limiting exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

Under the new standard, all employers must establish and implement a written exposure control plan, designate a competent person to implement the plan, and restrict housekeeping practices that expose workers to silica where alternatives are available.

They must also offer medical exams every three years for workers who must wear a respirator for 30 or more days a year under the standard, keep records of workers’ exposure and medical exams, and train workers on operations resulting in exposure and ways to limit exposure.

Employers can follow control methods listed in Table 1 from the construction standard, or they can independently measure workers’ exposure and decide which dust controls work best in their workplaces. Those who follow Table 1 do not have to measure workers’ exposure to silica.

You can read more about the Crystalline Silica Standard here: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3681.pdf

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