While enforcement for the newly revised silica rule began some months ago for the construction industry, it just now started for maritime and general industries on June 23. The new standard establishes an 8-hour time-weighted average for silica exposure at 50 µg per sq. meter as the permissible exposure limit (PEL) and 25 µg per sq. meter as the action level (AL). Although, states have the power to create standards even lower than the federal minimum.
OSHA is offering compliance assistance until July 22 to employers who are making good-faith efforts to meet the new standard, and interim enforcement guide will be issued to employers that make a request until the final standard is set.
For now, OSHA has available the Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry and Maritime as a free PDF download. This guide discusses compliance methods, exposure level assessment, respirator use, medical surveillance and written exposure plans.