August 15, 2019

OSHA Mulls Revisions to Table 1 of Its Silica Standard for Construction

OSHA is requesting feedback on table 1 of its respirable crystalline silica standard for construction through Oct. 14, 2019. Table 1, “Specified Exposure Control Methods When Working With Materials Containing Crystalline Silica,” matches common construction tasks and equipment with dust control methods that have been shown to be effective. The agency seeks information related to additional engineering and work practice control methods that effectively limit silica exposure for the tasks and equipment currently listed in table 1 of the standard. OSHA is also gathering feedback about silica-generating equipment and tasks that it should consider adding to table 1, along with the control methods associated with those items.

“Expanding Table 1 to include additional engineering and work practice control methods, equipment, and tasks could provide employers with more flexibility and reduce regulatory burdens while maintaining protections for employees,” OSHA’s press release states.

The agency is also considering whether to revise its respirable crystalline silica standard for general industry to “broaden the circumstances under which general industry and maritime employers would be permitted to comply with Table 1 of the silica standard for construction.” According to OSHA, construction employers that follow Table 1 do not have to assess employee exposures or separately ensure compliance with the PEL.

OSHA’s request for information is intended to help the agency consider new developments and enhanced control methods for equipment that generates silica exposures. For more information, including instructions for submitting comments, see the Federal Register notice.

OSHA’s final rule to protect workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica was published in March 2016 and comprises two standards, one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. The respirable crystalline silica construction standard became enforceable on Sept. 23, 2017. The standard established a new 8-hour time-weighted average permissible exposure limit of 50 µg/m3 and an action level of 25 µg/m3. The new PEL is approximately 20 percent of the previous PEL for construction.

More information about OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica standard for construction is available on the agency’s website.