A new OSHA rule on respirable crystalline silica will require employers to limit their employees’ exposure to silica hazards and provide medical exams to monitor highly exposed employees. The rule is scheduled to come into effect on June 23, 2018; however, OSHA began enforcement of the new rule in the construction industry on Sept. 23, 2017.
Under the new rule, employers must reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air (50 µg/m3). The rule also requires employers to take the following steps:
- Establish engineering controls to limit employees’ exposure to the new PEL.
- Provide employees with respirators when engineering controls alone do not provide enough protection.
- Establish a written silica exposure control plan.
- Provide medical exams to employees who are exposed to levels of respirable silica at or above the new PEL for 30 or more days a year.
To see more information on the respirable silica rule, and to see specifics about the rule’s application in the construction industry, visit OSHA’s website.