OSHA Now Fully Enforcing Construction Silica Standard

OSHA has issued a memorandum highlighting some of the requirements of the Respirable Crystalline Silica standard, 29 CFR 1926.1153, fully enforcing “all appropriate provisions” of the standard.

The final rule on Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica, published on March 25, 2016, established a new PEL of 50 µg/m3 for all covered industries. It also required other employee protections, such as performing exposure assessments, using exposure control methods, using respiratory protection, offering medical surveillance, developing hazard communication information, and keeping silica-related records.

The rule included two standards: one for Construction – 29 CFR 1926.1153; and one for General Industry and Maritime – 29 CFR 1910.1053, both of which became effective on June 23, 2016.

Under the construction standard, all obligations were to commence on June 23, 2017, except for requirements for sample analysis in 29 CFR 1926.1153(d)(2)(v), which commence on June 23, 2018. The construction standard has a number of unique features, which warranted development of additional guidance materials.

OSHA delayed enforcing this standard until September 23, 2017, to provide training to compliance officers and conduct outreach to the regulated community. Additionally, for the first 30 days, OSHA offered compliance assistance in lieu of enforcement for those employers who were making good faith efforts to comply.

Outreach to employers and training for CSHOs and other field staff has already been conducted, and additional educational materials are currently being developed.