Silica Standard Enforcement Begins with Compliance Assistance

Most provisions of the standard become enforceable on June 23. OSHA announced it intends to issue interim enforcement guidance until a compliance directive on the new standard is finalized.

OSHA has clarified how it will begin enforcement of its standard for respirable crystalline silica in general industry and maritime. Most provisions of the standard become enforceable on June 23, including a new 8-hour time-weighted average permissible exposure limit, action level, and associated requirements. During the first 30 days of enforcement, OSHA will offer compliance assistance for employers who make good-faith efforts to comply with the new standard.

OSHA announced it intends to issue interim enforcement guidance until a compliance directive on the new standard is finalized.

It pointed stakeholders to the OSHA Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry and Maritime, which discusses methods for compliance, such as using engineering and work practice controls, assessing exposure levels, respirator use, medical surveillance, and written exposure plans.

A memorandum to OSHA regional administrators from Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Galen Blanton explains that the standard, 29 CFR 1910.1053, establishes a new 8-hour time-weighted average PEL of 50 µg/m3 and an action level of 25 µg/m3.

"During the first 30 days of enforcement, OSHA will assist employers that are making good faith efforts to meet the new standard's requirements. If upon inspection, it appears an employer is not making any efforts to comply, compliance officers should conduct air monitoring in accordance with Agency procedures, and consider citations for non-compliance with any applicable sections of the new standard. Any proposed citations related to inspections conducted in this 30-day time period will require National Office review prior to issuance," the memo states. "Additionally, to ensure effective implementation and uniform enforcement of the new standard, OSHA has developed interim inspection and citation guidance to be released in the coming weeks. Regional offices are advised to contact the Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190 with any questions regarding enforcement of the new silica rule."

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