OSHA Enforces New Silica Rule
Rules and regulations are changing in the construction industry as we know it, all in the name of keeping employees healthy.
Last year OSHA® (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) issued a ruling to protect workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica and prevent new cases of silicosis. And as of September 23, 2017, they’ve begun enforcement with the Construction industry.
According to OSHA, an estimated 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in workplaces, including 2 million construction workers who cut, grind silica-containing material. An ingredient commonly found in certain building materials is known to cause respiratory health problems, including lung cancer, silicosis, and kidney disease.
The new rule requires employers to:
- Reduce permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift
- Use engineering controls to limit worker exposure to the PEL
- Provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure
- Develop a written exposure control plan
For a complete list of key provisions visit OSHA's website.
The great news is that there are many tools and products such as reusable modular walls ideal for partitions and containment areas, already available on the market to help employers be compliant with the rule.
Additional Silica Rule InformationOSHA® – Frequently Asked Questions: Respirable Crystalline Silica Rule
OSHA® – Fact Sheet
What Contractors Need to Know about OSHA’s New Silica Rule
Recommended Practices for Safety & Health Programs in Construction
OSHA® – Crystalline Silica Overview