OSHA Delays Enforcement of Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction
In April, OSHA announced that it will delay enforcement of its respirable crystalline silica standard for construction until Sept. 23, 2017. All employer obligations under the standard were originally set to start on June 23, 2017, except for requirements for sample analysis as described in paragraph (d)(2)(v). Enforcement of the requirements for sample analysis will begin on June 23, 2018. OSHA explained in a news release that the “unique nature” of the requirements in its respirable crystalline silica standard for construction warrant the development of additional guidance materials for the standard. According to OSHA’s memorandum for region administrators, available via the agency's website, OSHA is developing educational materials for employers and enforcement guidance for its staff. The enforcement delay is intended to allow OSHA time to conduct additional outreach to the regulated community and to train compliance officers. OSHA’s final rule to protect workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica was published in March 2016 and comprises two standards, one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. The final rule sets a new PEL for respirable crystalline silica of 50 μg/m3 calculated as an eight-hour time-weighted average. The new PEL is approximately 20 percent of the previous PEL for construction. “OSHA expects employers in the construction industry to continue to take steps either to come into compliance with the new permissible exposure limit, or to implement specific dust controls for certain operations as provided in Table 1 of the standard,” the agency’s news release reads. “Construction employers should also continue to prepare to implement the standard's other requirements, including exposure assessment, medical surveillance, and employee training.”