New Enforcement Guidance for Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction Standard Released

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The Office of Safety and Health Administration has provided interim enforcement guidance to compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) for enforcing 29 CFR 1926.1153, Respirable Crystalline Silica.

The Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction standard establishes a new 8-hour time weighted average (TWA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, and an action level (AL) of 25 µg/m3.

OSHA has been enforcing the Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction standard since Sept. 23. For the first 30 days, OSHA offered compliance assistance in lieu of enforcement for those employers who were making good faith efforts to comply with the new standard.

Effective Monday, Oct. 23, OSHA will fully enforce all appropriate provisions of the Silica in Construction standard.

“Silica is the new buzz word in construction, and with this enforcement guideline from OSHA, employers are provided with additional information to interpret the regulation and protect their workers,” said Wesley L. Wheeler, NECA’s Director of Safety.

Wheeler said employers such as electrical contractors will generally opt to use the protection measures available in Table 1, which covers the tasks their workers will perform, such as drilling and cutting.

A memorandum from OSHA, which can be accessed online here, will serve as interim enforcement guidance while the standard’s companion compliance directive is proceeding through the review process. It will expire when the compliance directive becomes effective and available to the field.

This memorandum highlights some of the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.1153, but it does not provide guidance on all of the standard’s provisions. The attachments provide inspection and citation guidance; as well as flow charts to assist with evaluating employers’ control methods.

Consult the Office of Health Enforcement when you need further information or guidance on 29 CFR 1926.1153, Respirable Crystalline Silica.

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