On November 14, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) released its Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction. This guide was produced for small to mid-size businesses (SMBs) with employees to help them comply with the new rule for crystalline silica exposure. Although this rule is seen as controversial by some organizations in the construction and related industries, it has been passed and no further changes are expected in the foreseeable future.
This new compliance guide provides the actual wording of the new rule, and then details how to assess employee exposure and methods that can be used to lower exposure to below the levels set in the standard, such as respiratory protection and housekeeping practices. In addition, the guide includes chapters on medical surveillance, hazard communication and recordkeeping.
OSHA is set to begin enforcing the final rule as it pertains to construction on June 23, 2017. Enforcement for general and maritime industries has been delayed one year to June 23, 2018, and a separate compliance guide for these industries is currently in development.
As a reminder, the new rule concerning silica is the federal standard, but states retain the authority to create separate standards as long they meet the minimum requirements. Businesses in many states have had to comply with state standards that meet the new federal rule for several years now. Always check with your state OSHA or other state authority regarding compliance for respirable silica.