OSHA issues guidance to ensure uniform enforcement of respirable crystalline silica standards

Earlier this summer, OSHA issued a compliance directive designed to ensure uniformity in inspection and enforcement procedures when addressing respirable crystalline silica exposures in general industry, maritime and construction.

According to OSHA, the directive provides compliance safety and health officers with guidance on how to enforce the silica standards’ requirements, including:

  • Methods of compliance
  • Table 1 tasks and specified exposure control methods
  • Exposure assessments
  • Housekeeping
  • Respiratory protection
  • Regulated areas
  • Recordkeeping
  • Employee information and training
  • Medical surveillance
  • Communication of hazards

OSHA began enforcing most provisions of the construction standard in September 2017, with enforcement of the requirements for sample analysis starting in June 2018. Enforcement of most of the general industry and maritime standards began in June 2018, with enforcement of some medical surveillance requirements commencing this past June.

Next June, the agency will begin enforcing requirements for engineering controls for hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry.

“Workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica may develop a number of serious health conditions, including silicosis – an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death, so mitigating exposure risks is essential,” said Joseph Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “Not only is it required, but noncompliance penalties can be quite costly. Our laboratories across North America provide industrial hygiene testing services, sampling supplies, air monitoring instruments and personal protective equipment (PPE).”

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