Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Issues Final Rule on Silica

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule to curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America's workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The rule is comprised of two standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime.

OSHA estimates that the rule will save over 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year, once its effects are fully realized. The Final Rule is projected to provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion, annually.

About 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush, or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in general industry operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Responsible employers have been protecting workers from harmful exposure to respirable crystalline silica for years, using widely-available equipment that controls dust with water or a vacuum system.

Compliance Schedule

Both standards contained in the final rule take effect on June 23, 2016, after which industries have one to five years to comply with most requirements, based on the following schedule:

Construction - September 23, 2017 (delayed from June 23, 2017, one year after the effective date).

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.

Currently enforcement of these standards has been delayed until September 23, 2017 to allow time to develop educational materials for employers and enforcement guidance for staff. 

See attached Memorandum

*Information from osha.gov/silica/

More information from OSHA about Silica hazards.

OSHA Fact Sheets for Silica:

 

OSHA Documents for Silica:

 

OSHA Hazard Alerts for Silica:

 

OSHA Info Sheet for Silica:

 

Health Hazard Information on Silica:

 

*Updated September 27, 2017, for compliance requirement delays