In its ABC Newsline newsletter, the Associated Builders and Contractors, Washington, alerts members that enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) silica standard as it applies to the construction industry will begin on Sept. 23.
Though it becomes enforceable Sept. 23, OSHA issued a memorandum stating in the first 30 days of enforcement, it would "evaluate food faith efforts taken by employers in their attempts to meet the new construction silica standard." Additionally, OSHA says will render compliance assistance and outreach to assure that "covered employees are fully and properly complying with its requirements."
As well, the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association Executive Director William Turley, in an email sent to members states, “Large segments of the construction industry, including concrete crushers, will not be able to be in compliance. However, because of earlier work CDRA did on the rule, it is not as onerous as it could be.”
The CDRA email included excerpts from Table 1 in it. This table details the equipment/task with its engineering and work practice control methods and required respiratory protection and minimum assigned protection factor (APF).
The silica rule lowers the permissible exposure limit (PEL) from the current standard of 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour day, and an action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air. In addition, the final rule requires contractors to follow several ancillary provisions, such as housekeeping and written exposure plans. Crystalline silica is ubiquitous on construction sites by virtue of its presence in many commonly used construction materials and products such as concrete, bricks, stone, asphalt, tile and countertops, says ABC.
The OSHA memo states, "Given the novelty of the Table 1 approach, OSHA will pay particular attention to assisting employers in fully and properly implementing the controls in the table."
ABC offers the following resources:
- OSHA Resource Page
- Overview of the Silica Final Rule
- Fact Sheet on Construction
- Small Entity Compliance Guide—Construction
- Frequently Asked Questions
“Silica remains a top priority for ABC National, and we continue to have conversations with the Department of Labor,” ABC states in its newsletter.