Safety and OSHA News

OSHA delays implementation of silica rule for construction

It’s a short delay, but OSHA wants more time to develop employer guidance for the new silica rule. 

Originally scheduled for June 23, 2017, enforcement will now begin Sept. 23, 2017.

OSHA wants to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers.

The agency determined additional guidance is necessary due to the unique nature of the requirements in the construction industry.

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.

The deadlines for general industry and maritime employers is still June 23, 2018. Additional compliance time is provided beyond that date to offer medical exams to some workers and for hydraulic fracturing employers to install dust controls to meet the new exposure limit.

The permissible exposure limit for silica is reduced under the new standard to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, averaged over an eight-hour shift.

The silica rule is also facing legal challenges and waiting for Trump administration appointees to review it. Unions, worker advocacy groups and employers are challenging aspects of the rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Secretary of Labor nominee Alexander Acosta told senators during his confirmation hearing that changes to the silica rule could be made.

The final rule encourages employers to use engineering controls, such as water and ventilation, and work practices to limit worker exposure.

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