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Take Action - OSHA Silica Standard

Take Action! Comments Due February 11, 2014
 
Support AGC's efforts to submit a comprehensive response to the proposed rule by providing as much specific data and information as possible to assist the Agency in its deliberative process.
 
On August 23, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed a rule to reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) to airborne crystalline silica in general/maritime industry and construction industry in half to 50 micrograms/m3. OSHA estimates that the proposed rule will impact 477,000 establishments, 1.85 million workers, and carry an annualized compliance cost of $511 million dollars for the construction industry.

Submit comments to Assistant Secretary Michaels - Download AGC's letter under Members Only News 

The proposed rule also creates an action level of 25 ìg/m. Sampling at or above the action level triggers the requirements for periodic exposure assessments and would require employers to conduct additional assessments at least every six months until they fall under the action level for two consecutive monitoring assessments taken at least seven days apart. However, OSHA has specifically requested comment on whether an action level is appropriate for inclusion in the final rule.
 
OSHA proposes to have the new rule cover all three forms of crystalline silica, quartz, cristobalite, and tridymite. The rule includes new requirements for exposure assessment, exposure-controlling methods, respiratory protection, medical surveillance, hazard communication, and record-keeping, including:
 
  • requiring employers to conduct initial and periodic exposure assessments for respirable crystalline silica, as often as every three months;
  • requiring air sampling for each shift, job classification, and work area;
  • requiring employers to retain accredited laboratories to analyze samples;
  • mandating the use of engineering and work practice controls to reduce respirable crystalline silica below PEL, unless the employer can demonstrate such methods are infeasible;
  • prohibiting frequent rotation of employees to prevent exposure above PEL;
  • requiring creation of Regulated Areas and an accompanying written access control plan and limiting access to Regulated Areas to essential personnel;
  • requiring use of approved respirators;
  • requiring no-cost medical surveillance for any employee exposed to silica above the PEL for 30 or more days per year and providing medical opinions to employees no later than 45 days after any examination;
  • requiring silica-specific training in an employer's hazard communication program; and mandating recordkeeping and retention of nearly all documents and materials (samples, reports, medical surveillance).
Respirator use is required, but an employer cannot just hand out respirators to protect workers from silica exposure. An employer must first implement engineering and work practice controls to get exposure levels below the PEL, unless it can demonstrate such controls are not feasible.
 
Occupational Safety & Health Administration - View Site here
 

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