OSHA’s new final rule brings safety standards up to date after more than 40 years.  The final rule reduces U.S. workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica, and requires engineering controls such as water or ventilation, or respirators when engineering controls are not adequate.  This is an effort to curb diseases such as lung cancer, kidney disease, silicosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  The rule has two standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime, which includes Hydraulic Fracturing.

The new standard requires employers to:

  • Use engineering controls such as water or ventilation to limit worker exposure
  • Provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure
  • Limit worker access to high exposure areas
  • Develop a written exposure control plan
  • Offer medical exams to highly exposed workers
  • Train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures

A timeline of crystalline silica standards, rules, and compliance schedule is below:

An on-site consultation program for small and mid-sized business is available through OSHA.  It offers free and confidential occupational safety and health services.  The on-site services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations.  OSHA also provides a Small Entity Compliance Guide for Construction and one for General Industry/Maritime.

The Unique Employment Safety Team is here to help.  Contact Richard Sanchez, Safety Manager at 361-852-6392 or [email protected] for questions or to schedule an appointment.