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Deadline Approaching for Respirable Crystalline Silica Compliance

July 27, 2017 | Leave a Comment

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Employers in general, construction, and maritime industries should be preparing for an upcoming compliance deadline issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding respirable crystalline silica.

What is respirable crystalline silica?

Silica, a mineral found in sand, concrete, stone, and other materials, is hazardous when reduced to a dust and has the potential to be inhaled. Any job functions that involve cutting, sawing, drilling, or crushing materials that contain silica is dangerous.

When silica dust particles are inhaled, they can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause di sabling and sometimes fatal diseases, including silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and kidney disease.

What are OSHA’s new regulations?

The rule includes two sets of standards—one for the construction industry and another for general and maritime industries.

Both dramatically reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air (50 µg/m3) as an eight-hour time-weighted average and require employers to implement specific measures to protect workers.

The required measures include engineering controls, respiratory protection, medical surveillance, hazard communication and recordkeeping. Compliance with these rules will not be an easy process for employers. In some cases, air sampling will need to be conducted.

When is the deadline?

When the rule was enacted in June 2016, employers in the construction industry were given a compliance deadline of Sept. 23, 2017. Employers in the general and maritime industries have until June 23, 2018, to meet the new standards.

Employers should be acting now to determine if they are subject to the rule. If so, organizations should become familiar with OSHA’s new requirements and begin drafting and take steps to implement a written exposure control plan.

For more information on compliance for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry and Maritime, click here.

For more information on compliance for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard Construction, click here.

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