On October 19th, a memorandum was sent from Patrick Kapust, Acting Director of Enforcement Programs, to all regional offices of federal OSHA providing enforcement guidance on the new exposure limits to Respirable Crystalline Silica.
OSHA has been enforcing the Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction standard since September 23, 2017. However, 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 construction standard. OSHA announced it will fully enforce all appropriate provisions of the Silica in Construction standard effective October 23, 2017. The memorandum sent to regional offices was to serve as interim enforcement guidance while the standard’s companion compliance directive is still proceeding through the review process. This memorandum is set to expire when the compliance directive becomes effective and available to the field.
The memorandum highlights some of the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.1153, but does not provide guidance on all of the standard’s provisions. There are two attachments that provide inspection and citation guidance as well as flow charts to assist with evaluating an employer’s control methods.
The final rule on Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica, published on March 25, 2016, established a new Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3 for all covered industries. It also required other employee protections, such as performing exposure assessments, using exposure control methods, using respiratory protection, offering medical surveillance, developing hazard communication information, and keeping silica-related records. The rule included two standards: one for Construction – 29 CFR 1926.1153 and one for General Industry and Maritime – 29 CFR 1910.1053, both of which became effective on June 23, 2016.
Under the construction standard, all obligations were to commence on June 23, 2017 except for requirements for sample analysis in 29 CFR 1926.1153(d)(2)(v), which are set to commence on June 23, 2018. The construction standard has a number of unique features which warranted development of additional guidance materials. Therefore, OSHA delayed enforcing this standard until September 23, 2017, to provide training to compliance officers and conduct outreach to the regulated community. Additionally, for the first 30 days, OSHA offered compliance assistance in lieu of enforcement for those employers who were found to be making good faith efforts to comply. OSHA was also lenient toward those employers making good-faith efforts to comply as mentioned earlier.
To read the Memorandum and review the attachments, click here.