Federal agencies Silica Workplace exposures

OSHA issues enforcement guidance on silica standard for general industry, maritime

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Washington — OSHA has released initial enforcement guidelines for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for general industry and maritime, a couple of weeks before many of the rule’s provisions are scheduled to go into effect.

“During the first 30 days of enforcement, OSHA will offer compliance assistance for employers who make good faith efforts to comply with the new standard,” the agency states in a June 8 press release, adding that a compliance directive on the standard is forthcoming. The standard’s effective date is June 23.

The final rule lowers the permissible exposure limit to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air over an 8-hour period. OSHA released a fact sheet on the regulation in February.

Crystalline silica is a carcinogen found in sand, stone and artificial stone. It can cause silicosis, a chronic disease that involves scarring of the lungs. OSHA estimates that 2.3 million workers are exposed to silica dust each year.

OSHA’s silica standard for construction went into effect Oct. 23.

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