On Aug. 23, OSHA unveiled its long-anticipated proposal to address crystalline silica exposure in the construction industry. As expected, the proposed rule drastically lowers the existing permissible exposure limit for respirable silica in the construction industry. 
  • Major provisions in OSHA’s construction standard for silica include requiring employers to:
  • Measure the amount of silica that workers are exposed to if it may be at or above an action level of 25 μg/m3 (micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air), averaged over an 8-hour day;
  • Protect workers from respirable crystalline silica exposures above the PEL of 50 μg/m3, averaged over an 8-hour day;
  • Limit workers’ access to areas where they could be exposed above the PEL;
  • Use dust controls to protect workers from silica exposures above the PEL;
  • Provide respirators to workers when dust controls cannot limit exposures to the PEL;
  • Offer medical exams—including chest X-rays and lung function tests—every three years for workers exposed above the PEL for 30 or more days per year;
  • Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure; and
  • Keep records of workers’ silica exposure and medical exams.
To view the complete fact sheet on OSHA’s proposed construction standard click here.

The public will be given 90 days to comment from the date it is published in the Federal Register [Published 9/12/13]. OSHA also plans to hold public hearings on the proposed rule beginning in March 2014. 

For more information on the proposed silica rule please visit OSHA’s website at: https://www.osha.gov/silica.

* UPDATE: The proposed silica rule was published in the Federal Register on Sept. 12, 2013. All written comments must be submitted by February 11, 2014.