New Silica Dust Rules From OSHA

Silica Dust Rules Finalized by OSHA.

OSHA and its new silica dust rules.
OSHA’s New Silica Dust Rules.

In March of 2016 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the final silica dust rules for silica dust exposure on construction sites. The rules take effect on June 23, 2016 and construction employers have until June 23, 2017 to comply.

Silica dust is generated by tasks such as cutting, grinding, or breaking concrete,  or sand blasting. Under the current exposure limit of 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air.  OSHA has determined that workers are being exposed to unacceptable levels of dust, under that rule.  That exposure could lead to serious health problem such as lung cancer, silicosis  and kidney disease.

The new silica dust rules reduces the exposure limit to 50 micrograms.  Employers are now required to train workers to limit exposure and to provide workers with respirators and “engineering controls” to limit silica exposure.

Compliance to OSHA’s silica dust rules.

OSHA has issued a Fact Sheet on the new rules and what it means to construction contractors.  Employers have two options for complying:

  1. Measure worker exposure and decide how to comply.
  2. Or, follow Table 1 of the rule, which defines control methods to be used for different tasks or equipment on a job site and exempts the employer from measuring.

Concrete contractors should study the new rules and come up with a plan of action. All construction employers are required to:

  1. Have a written exposure control plan.
  2. Designate a competent person to implement the plan.
  3. Establish housekeeping practices to reduce exposure.
  4. Offer medical exams (X-rays and lung tests) every three years to workers exposed to silica in their jobs.

To read OSHA’s press release about the announcement of the new rules, click here.

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