OSHA Publishes Interim Enforcement Guidance for Silica Construction Standard

Published October 25, 2017

​An Oct. 19 memorandum for OSHA regional administrators provides interim enforcement guidance for compliance safety and health officers for enforcing the agency’s respirable crystalline silica in construction standard, which became enforceable on Sept. 23, 2017. During the first 30 days of enforcement, OSHA offered compliance assistance in lieu of enforcement for employers who were “making good faith efforts” to comply with the standard, which establishes a new 8-hour TWA PEL of 50 µg/m3, an action level of 25 µg/m3, and ancillary requirements. As of Monday, Oct. 23, OSHA is fully enforcing “all appropriate provisions” of the standard.

The new memo includes inspection guidance for specified and alternative exposure control methods, and flow charts for evaluating construction employer methods of controlling exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Information on other provisions of the standard such as respiratory protection, housekeeping practices, written exposure control plans, medical surveillance, and communication of hazards is also provided. The memo also outlines guidance on issuing citations.

Compliance safety and health officers should be prepared to collect personal breathing zone samples on the first day of an inspection, the memo states. They must also review the employer’s written silica exposure control plan and other relevant programs, such as respiratory protection or hazard communication programs, as part of their investigation.

View the full memo on OSHA’s website.

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.