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  • Kim Davis

OSHA's New Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard

On September 23rd, 2017 OSHA began enforcing the respirable crystalline silica standard for construction. This new rule provides important guidelines to protect and keep workers from breathing silica dust. Compliance will help curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease.

It is estimated that the rule will save over 600 lives and prevent 900 new cases of silicosis each year. The rule has two standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Marine. It affects about 2.3 million workers who are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces. The Final Rule is projected to provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion, annually.

Harmful exposure in construction can result from drilling, cutting, crushing or grinding silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone. The ruling also affects general industry operations like brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Equipment that controls dust with water or a vaccum system can protect workers from these harmful affects.

Although the new rule took effect on 23 June 2016, industries have one to five years to comply with most requirements, based on the following schedule:

Construction - September 23, 2017. OSHA delayed enforcement from June 23, 2017 to September 23, 2017 in order to conduct additional outreach to provide educational materials.

General Industry and Maritime - June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date.

Hydraulic Fracturing - June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date for all provisions except Engineering Controls, which have a compliance date of June 23, 2021.

OSHA conducted 14 days of public hearings with input from more than 200 stakeholders and accepted over 2,000 comments all leading to about 34,000 pages of material which was used to reach this new safety standard.

The UBIC Loss Control team can work with employers to establish safety plans to keep workers safe and save employers money. To schedule a meeting call (801) 432-8121.


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