OSHA Directive Aims to Ensure Uniform Enforcement of Silica Standards
A new directive issued by OSHA provides guidance for OSHA compliance safety and health officers on enforcing the requirements of the agency’s respirable crystalline silica standards and clarifies topics such as variability in sampling, multi-employer situations, and temporary workers. The new directive also clarifies alternative exposure control methods when a construction employer does not fully and properly implement Table 1, “Specified Exposure Control Methods When Working With Materials Containing Crystalline Silica.” Table 1 matches common construction tasks and equipment with dust control methods that have been shown to be effective. In addition, OSHA’s new directive covers requirements such as methods of compliance, exposure assessment, housekeeping, respiratory protection, regulated areas, recordkeeping, hazard communication, employee training, and medical surveillance. 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 standards include a lower eight-hour time-weighted average permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica of 50 µg/m3 in general industry, maritime, and construction. The new directive can be downloaded as a PDF from OSHA’s website. More information about OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica standards for construction, maritime, and general industry is also available online.