OSHA Begins Enforcement of its Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction Standard. Try Saying That Five Times Real Fast
On October 23, 2017, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began enforcement of its Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction Standard(Construction Silica Standard). OSHA enforcement of its Construction Silica Standard actually began on September 23, 2017, but for a period of 30 days, OSHA offered compliance assistance in lieu of enforcement for employers who were making good faith efforts to comply with the Construction Silica Standard.
California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) has a nearly identical construction silica standard that requires employers to limit worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica above 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air (25 μg/m3) as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) under any foreseeable condition.
What is Crystalline Silica?Crystalline silica is a common mineral found in the earth’s crust. Materials like sand, stone, concrete, and mortar contain crystalline silica. It is also used to make products such as glass, pottery, ceramics, bricks, and artificial stone. Respirable crystalline silica – very small particles at least 100 times smaller than ordinary sand – is created when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, and crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar. Workers who inhale these very small crystalline silica particles are at increased risk of developing serious silica-related diseases, including:
The Construction Silica Standard requires employers to limit worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica and provides two compliance alternatives:
What does the “assessment method” require?The “assessment method” applies to tasks not listed in Table 1, or where an employer does not fully and properly implement the engineering controls, work practices and respiratory protection listed in Table 1. Under the “assessment method”:
Are there other resources to help me comply with the Construction Silica Standard?Yes. OSHA has published the OSHA Small Entity Compliance Guide for Construction, a summary of the Construction Silica Standard, and frequently asked questions regarding the Construction Silica Standard.