September 5, 2019

MSHA Seeks Information on Miners' Exposure to Quartz

MSHA is seeking information regarding best practices to protect miners’ health from exposure to silica, specifically quartz, in respirable dust, the agency announced in a request for information published last week. MSHA specifically requests input from industry, labor, NIOSH, and other stakeholders on economically and technologically feasible practices to improve health protections for coal, metal, and nonmetal miners against exposure to quartz dust. The agency hopes to gather input in several areas, including new or developing protective technologies and technical and educational assistance. Stakeholders are encouraged to provide information on how engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment can be used to protect miners from exposure to quartz dust. MSHA is particularly interested in dust-control methods that could be used to reduce miners' exposure to respirable quartz during high-silica cutting situations.

MSHA also solicits information and data regarding “an examination of an appropriately reduced permissible exposure limit.” In 2016, OSHA’s final rule on occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica set a new PEL for respirable crystalline silica of 50 μg/m3 calculated as an eight-hour time-weighted average. The new PEL matched what NIOSH recommended more than 40 years ago in its 1974 criteria for a recommended standard on occupational exposure to crystalline silica.

Comments and other input are due by Oct. 28, 2019. More information is available in the Federal Register.