OSHA Expects to Issue Final Rule for Occupational Exposure to Silica in February

OSHA’s fall 2015 semiannual regulatory agenda projects that the final rule for occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica (i.e., quartz, cristobalite and tridymite), which has been in development for more than 15 years, will be completed in February 2016.

The final rule is expected to include two new exposure limits:

  • Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL): 8-hour time weighted average (TWA) of 0.05 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3).
  • Action Level:  8-hour TWA of 0.025 mg/m3.

Employers will be required to identify tasks that may expose employees to silica and conduct initial exposure assessments to determine compliance with the new OSHA limits.

OSHA’s final rule will likely include other ancillary provisions for employee protection such as preferred methods for controlling exposure, regulated work areas, written access control plans, respiratory protection, medical surveillance, hazard communication and training, housekeeping, and recordkeeping. OSHA is proposing two separate regulatory texts, one for general industry and maritime, and the other for construction, in order to tailor requirements to the circumstances found in these sectors.

For OSHA compliance assistance, please contact Michael Howe by e-mail at colden@colden.com.