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OSHA maintains that workers may be exposed to respirable crystalline silica – particles typically at least 100X smaller than ordinary beach sand found – during various manufacturing processes, as well as during abrasive blasting with sand, and in foundry processes.

Feds Outline Initial Silica Enforcement Standard

New regulation establishes permissible exposure limit for workers, action level, and ancillary requirements

Recently the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a memorandum outlining the initial enforcement of its new standard for respirable crystalline silica in general industrial and maritime operations. Most of these provisions of the standard become fully enforceable on June 23, 2018.

This new standard was announced by OSHA in March 2016, aiming to minimize workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica — which, the agency holds, may cause lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in workers.

The new standard establishes an eight-hour, time-weighted average permissible exposure limit (PEL), action level, and associated ancillary requirements.

During the first 30 days of enforcement, OSHA will offer compliance assistance for employers who make good faith efforts to comply with the new standard.

OSHA intends to issue interim enforcement guidance until a compliance directive on the new standards is finalized.

In addition, OSHA released publication — Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry and Maritime, available for download —that describes methods of compliance, such as using engineering and work practice controls, assessing exposure levels, respirator use, medical surveillance, and written exposure plans.

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