Criteria for updating the crystalline silica gel
The rule will also require employers to develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.The rule comprises two standards, one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. Employers covered by the construction standard will have one year after the effective date to comply with most requirements.During a call with reporters to introduce the new rule, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica, including approximately two million construction workers and 300,000 workers in general industry operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing.Perez stated that the new PEL is “precisely what NIOSH recommended” more than 40 years ago in its 1974 criteria for a recommended standard on occupational exposure to crystalline silica. Under the new rule, employers will be required to use engineering controls to limit worker exposure to the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; and limit worker access to high exposure areas.OSHA’s proposed standards would have required the use of protective clothing in some situations, whereas the final standards do not.
According to Michaels, the specific mention of sorptive clays was dropped following OSHA’s review of the geology and chemistry of the clays, which did not indicate the same characteristics as some of the other exposures covered by the rule.
Where OSHA’s proposal would have prohibited use of compressed air, dry sweeping, and dry brushing to clean clothing or surfaces contaminated with crystalline silica, the final standards allow it where other cleaning methods are not feasible.
OSHA estimates that, when fully effective, the new final rule will save more than 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis annually.
General industry and maritime employers will have two years, until June 23, 2018.
Employers in hydraulic fracturing also have until June 2018 to comply with all provisions except engineering controls to limit exposures to the new PEL, which have a compliance date of June 23, 2021, five years from the rule’s effective date.