The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued a memorandum outlining new standards for general industry and maritime requiring employers to limit work exposures to respirable crystalline silica and to take other steps to protect workers. Starting June 23, 2018, employers are now required to:
- Assess employee exposure to silica if silica levels reach 25 µg/m3 (micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air), averaged over an 8-hour day;
- Protect workers from respirable crystalline silica above the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, averaged over an 8-hou day;
- Limit worker access to areas where the worker could be exposed to silica above the PEL;
- Use dust controls to protect workers from silica exposure above the PEL;
- Provide respirators to workers when dust controls cannot limit silica exposure above the PEL;
- Use housekeeping methods that do not create airborne dust;
- Establish and implement a written exposure control plan that identifies tasks that involve exposure and methods used to protect workers;
- Offer medical exams every three years for workers exposed to silica for 30 or more days per year;
- Train workers on operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure; and
- Keep records of exposure measurements, objective data, and medical exams.
Additional information about these new OSHA rules and regulations associated with crystalline silica exposure can be found here.