On April 6th, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a delay in the enforcement of its respirable crystalline silica standard that applies to the construction industry until September 23, 2017, from the previous effective date of June 23, 2017. The delay is intended to allow OSHA enough time to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers.
In a national news release, OSHA explained that the "additional guidance is necessary due to the unique nature of the requirements in the construction standard." OSHA also stated, “OSHA expects employers in the construction industry to continue to take steps either to come into compliance with the new permissible exposure limit, or to implement specific dust controls for certain operations as provided in Table 1 of the standard. Construction employers should also continue to prepare to implement the standard's other requirements, including exposure assessment, medical surveillance and employee training.”
Permissible Exposure Limit
The new permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica is 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, calculated as an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA). This new PEL is approximately 20 percent of the previous PEL for construction.
What is Table 1?
Table 1 matches common construction tasks with dust control methods, so employers know exactly what they need to do to limit worker exposures to silica. The dust control measures listed in the table include methods known to be effective, like using water to keep dust from getting into the air or using ventilation to capture dust. In some operations, respirators may also be needed. Employers who follow Table 1 correctly are not required to measure workers’ exposure to silica and are not subject to the PEL.To find out more about this topic, click here.