Federal agencies Silica Workplace exposures

OSHA guide addresses silica rule compliance for general industry, maritime

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Washington – OSHA has published a guide intended to help small businesses comply with the agency’s standard on worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica for general industry and maritime.

The agency presented its final rule as separate standards – one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. Both went into effect in June 2016, with general industry and maritime having until June 23, 2018, to comply.

The document details the required steps employers must take to protect employees, including assessing workplace exposures and using engineering and work practice controls to keep exposures at a safe level.

Crystalline silica is a known carcinogen, and exposure to silica dust can trigger silicosis – a chronic disease that involves scarring of the lungs. OSHA estimates that 2.3 million workers are exposed to the dust, including 2 million construction workers.

The rule lowers the permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged during an 8-hour shift.

OSHA previously published a similar guidance document for the construction industry.

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