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OSHA Issues Final Rule on Crystalline Silica

Release Date: April 1, 2016

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a final rule in the March 25, 2016, Federal Register to improve protection for workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica dust. OSHA estimates that when the final rule becomes fully effective, it will save more than 600 lives annually and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis (an incurable and progressive disease) each year. About 2.3 million workers face exposure to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including two million construction workers who drill and cut silica-containing materials, such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing. Most employers can limit harmful dust exposure by using equipment that is widely available - generally using water to keep dust from getting into the air or a ventilation system to capture dust where it is created.

The final rule is written as two standards: one for general industry and maritime (29 CFR 1910.1053 and 1915.1053) and one for construction (29 CFR 1926.1153). Employers covered by the construction standard have until June 23, 2017, to comply with most requirements. Employers covered by the general industry and maritime standard have until June 23, 2018, to comply with most requirements; additional time is provided to offer medical exams to some workers and for hydraulic fracturing employers to install dust controls to meet the new exposure limit.

General Industry and Maritime Requirements

The standard for general industry and maritime requires employers to:

Construction Requirements

The standard for construction requires employers to:

"The previous exposure limits were outdated and did not adequately protect workers," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels in announcing the final rule. "Limiting exposure to silica dust is essential. Every year, many exposed workers not only lose their ability to work, but also to breathe. Today, we are taking action to bring worker protections into the 21st century in ways that are feasible and economical for employers to implement."

For more information on the final rule, visit the OSHA silica resource webpage at https://www.osha.gov/silica/index.html. The website contains links to the text of the final rule, fact sheets summarizing the provisions, frequently asked questions, and other resources.

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The information contained in this publication was obtained from sources believed to be reliable. ISO Services, Inc., its companies and employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with either the information herein contained or the safety suggestions herein made. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that every acceptable safety procedure is contained herein or that abnormal or unusual circumstances may not warrant or require further or additional procedure.


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