OSHA is Set to Start Enforcing Construction Silica Standard Next We
On September 23, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) will begin enforcing its silica standard in the construction industry. The standard requires employers to limit worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica and take other steps to protect workers.
The standard provides flexible alternatives for employers to comply. Employers can either use a control method set forth in Table 1 of the construction standard found at 29 C.F.R. § 1926.1153, or employers can measure workers’ exposure to silica and independently decide which dust controls work best to limit exposures to the Permissible Exposure Limits (“PEL”) in their workplaces (referred to as alternative exposure control methods).
Employers who fully implement the control measures in Table 1 of the standard do not have to assess employees’ silica exposure levels or keep employee exposures at or below the PEL. Table 1 matches common construction tasks with dust control methods so employers know what they need to do to limit exposures to silica.
Employers who use alternative exposure control methods must: (1) determine the levels of silica that exposures are exposed to; (2) limit employee exposures to a PEL of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air as an 8-hour time-weighted average; (3) use engineering and work practice controls, to the extent feasible, to limit employee exposures to the PEL, and supplement the controls with respiratory protection when necessary; and (4) keep records of employee exposure to silica.
All employers covered by the standard must:
• provide respiratory protection when required;• restrict housekeeping practices that expose employees to silica where feasible alternatives are available;• establish and implement a written exposure control plan, including designating a competent person;• offer medical exams to employees who will be required to wear a respirator under the standard for 30 or more days a year, including chest X-rays and lung function tests;• communicate hazards and train employees; and• keep records of medical examinations.
Employers covered by the silica standard will want to have their program in place, and any necessary controls in effect by September 23, 2017.
For help with your program or other compliance concerns, please contact Jackson Kelly PLLC.
This article was authored by Kristin R.B. White, Jackson Kelly PLLC. For more information on the author, click here.
OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH PRACTICE GROUP
Kristin R.B. White
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