OSHA Enforcement Launch for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard in General Industry
29 CFR § 1910.1053
OSHA's Respirable Crystalline Silica standard for general industry requires employers to limit worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica and take other steps to protect workers.
Workers who are exposed to respirable crystalline silica dust are at increased risk of developing serious silica-related diseases. OSHA's standard requires employers to take steps to protect workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica.
Most provisions of the Respirable Crystalline Silica standard for general industry, 29 CFR § 1910.1053, become enforceable on June 23, 2018. The standard establishes a new 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, an action level (AL) of 25 µg/m3, and associated ancillary requirements.
The standard requires employers to:
• Assess employee exposures to silica if it may be at or above an action level of 25 µg/m3 (micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air), averaged over an 8-hour day;
• Protect workers from respirable crystalline silica exposures above the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, averaged over an 8-hour day;
• Limit workers' access to areas where they could be exposed above the PEL;
• Use dust controls to protect workers from silica exposures above the PEL;
• Provide respirators to workers when dust controls cannot limit exposures to the PEL;
• Use housekeeping methods that do not create airborne dust, if feasible;
• Establish and implement a written exposure control plan that identifies tasks that involve exposure and methods used to protect workers;
• Offer medical exams - including chest X-rays and lung function tests - every three years for workers exposed at or above the action level for 30 or more days per year;
• Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure; and
• Keep records of exposure measurements, objective data, and medical exams.
General industry and maritime employers must comply with all requirements of the standard by June 23, 2018, except for the following:
Medical surveillance must be offered to employees who will be exposed at or above the action level for 30 or more days a year starting on June 23, 2020. (Medical surveillance must be offered to employees who will be exposed above the PEL for 30 or more days a year starting on June 23, 2018.)
Employers can protect workers from silica exposures by using dust controls such as:
* Wet methods that apply water at the point where silica dust is made;
* Local exhaust ventilation or equipment that removes silica dust at or near the point where it is made;
* Enclosures that isolate the work process or the worker.
If upon inspection, it appears an employer is not making any efforts to comply, compliance officers may conduct air monitoring in accordance with Agency procedures, and consider citations for non-compliance with any applicable sections of the new standard.
If you have any questions regarding compliance with the new standard, contact the Statewide Insurance Fund's loss control department at 732-446-5958.