OSHA Is Enforcing Its Silica Construction Standard

Published September 27, 2017

OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica construction standard became enforceable on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. The standard establishes a new 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, an action level of 25 µg/m3, and ancillary requirements. The new PEL is approximately 20 percent of the previous PEL for construction.

In a memo to regional administrators issued on Sept. 20, OSHA states that during the first 30 days of enforcement, the agency will “carefully evaluate good faith efforts taken by employers in their attempts to meet the new construction silica standard.”

The construction standard includes a table that specifies exposure control methods when working with materials containing crystalline silica. “OSHA will pay particular attention to assisting employers in fully and properly implementing the controls in the table,” the memo reads.

OSHA previously published a compliance guide (PDF) intended to help small business employers comply with the respirable crystalline silica standard for construction. Different sections of the guide correspond to the major provisions of the silica standard for construction. The guide’s sections include information on specified exposure control methods, alternative exposure control methods, respiratory protection, housekeeping, medical surveillance, and more.

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. Learn more about the rule on the agency’s website.