The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it was establishing a revised National Emphasis Program (NEP) to identify and reduce or eliminate worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) in general industry, maritime and construction on Feb. 5.
Specifically, the following changes were made:
- Revised application to the lower permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) as an 8-hour time-weighted average in general industry, maritime, and construction;
- Updated list of target industries, as listed in the appendix of the NEP; from this list, area offices will develop randomized establishment lists of employers in their local jurisdictions for targeted inspections;
- Compliance safety and health officers will refer to current enforcement guidance for RCS inspection procedures;
- All OSHA regional and area offices must comply with this NEP, but they are not required to develop and implement corresponding regional or local emphasis programs; and
- State plans must participate because of the nationwide exposures to silica.
OSHA sent the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA) a letter outlining its next steps on enforcement of the employee silica exposure rule, including an increase in enforcement of the rule.
In a letter to members, CDRA announced that it “was able to convince the agency that common current dust control systems, including the use of water at the infeed of the crusher, were adequate measures. This avoided most of the expensive modifications OSHA originally wanted to mandate on the industry.”
The letter OSHA sent noted that since the rule was promulgated, it has been engaged in education and outreach of the rule’s requirements to those businesses it affects. The agency said that while education and outreach will continue, it plans to ramp up enforcement of the rule throughout the country. It also listed the type of businesses and operations that this enforcement will affect. Included on the list is concrete recycling.
The CDRA says that OSHA inspectors will probably be looking for dust violations more strenuously and that enforcement will likely vary by region.
See OSHA’s letter to CDRA online.