General Industry and Maritime Silica Standard Effective June 23

According to OSHA, about 2.3 million people in the U.S. are exposed to silica at work. Those who inhale these very small particles are at risk for developing serious diseases including silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease.

To better protect workers exposed to respirable silica, OSHA established the Respirable Crystalline Silica standard to require employers to:

  • Assess employee exposures to silica if it may be at or above an action level of 25 µg/m3 (micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air), averaged over an 8-hour day
  • Protect workers from respirable crystalline silica exposures above the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, averaged over an 8-hour day
  • Limit workers' access to areas where they could be exposed above the PEL
  • Use dust controls to protect workers from silica exposures above the PEL
  • Provide respirators to workers when dust controls cannot limit exposures to the PEL
  • Use housekeeping methods that do not create airborne dust, if feasible
  • Establish and implement a written exposure control plan that identifies tasks that involve exposure and methods used to protect workers
  • Offer medical exams, including chest X-rays and lung function tests, every three years for workers exposed at or above the action level for 30 or more days per year
  • Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure
  • Keep records of exposure measurements, objective data, and medical exams
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will begin enforcing most provisions of the Respirable Crystalline Silica standard for general industry and maritime on June 23, 2018. Exemptions can be found on OSHA’s Silica website page

Find out more information about the new standard here.

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