OSHA Issues Final Rule on Silica Standards


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OSHA has released its final rule prescribing the regulations and effective dates for its new regulations on exposure to respirable crystalline silica.  Silica dust—which workers may be exposed to by breathing in dust produced by drilling, cutting, crushing or grinding silica-containing materials such as stone or concrete—can cause severe health issues, such as lung cancer, silicosis, and kidney disease.  OSHA’s new measures are intended to provide better protections by limiting exposure.

Key components of the rule are as follows:

  • The Rule reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an 8 hour shift;
  • Employers must implement engineering controls (e.g., water or ventilation) to limit exposure, or provide respirators where engineering controls are inadequate;
  • Employers must limit employee access to high exposure areas; and
  • Employers are to develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposure.

Given the wide number of industries the Rule effects (such as, but not limited to, construction, glass manufacturing, foundries, dental laboratories, jewelry production, concrete products, etc.), the Rule has a staggered effective date for compliance to offer employers more flexibility.


Construction Industries June 23, 2017
General Industries and Maritime June 23, 2018
Hydraulic Fracturing June 23, 2018 for all provisions except engineering control, which has a compliance date of June 23, 2021.


Action Items:

  1. Read the text of the Final Rule here.
  2. Contact ManagEase at (888) 230-3231 for assistance in adjusting written workplace safety programs and policies.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2016 ManagEase, Incorporated.

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