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Small Business Compliance Guide: Silica Standard in Construction

Monday, November 28, 2016

A new compliance guide published by OSHA is aimed at helping small businesses comply with its respirable crystalline silica standard for construction. The guide describes and outlines the provisions in a language that is easier to understand and provides additional details to help employers better understand the requirements.

Included in the guide's sections:

  • specified exposure control methods
  • alternative exposure control methods
  • respiratory protection, housekeeping
  • medical surveillance, and more

See the Key Provisions and Compliance Schedule from OSHA's website below:


Key Provisions

  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-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.

Compliance Schedule

Both standards contained in the final rule take effect on June 23, 2016., after which industries have one to five years to comply with most requirements, based on the following schedule:

Construction - June 23, 2017, one year after the effective date.

General Industry and Maritime - June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date.

Hydraulic Fracturing - June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date for all provisions except Engineering Controls, which have a compliance date of June 23, 2021.

OSHA indicates that a separate compliance guide for this standard for general industry and maritime will be available sometime in December.

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