OSHA uses webchat to outline proposed silica rule requirements
Washington – OSHA’s current rule on silica is based on obsolete analytical data, and exposure at the current permissible exposure limit results in “significant risks of death” from cancer and other diseases, the agency said during a Jan. 14 webchat that discussed proposed updates to the rule.
The proposed rule would cut the current PEL for respirable silica in half and require employers to institute engineering and work practice controls to attain those levels. Respirators could be used only if the PELs could not otherwise be attained, OSHA officials said in the webchat.
In response to questions as to whether available technology could accurately measure silica dust at the proposed action level, the agency asserted that existing methods are capable of measuring worker exposure within a “reasonable degree of precision.”
Comments on the proposed rule are due Jan. 27. Several webchat participants requested that OSHA extend the comment deadline, but the agency repeatedly responded that the current 157-day comment period is one of the longest in OSHA’s history.
The rule was published in the Sept. 12 Federal Register, but was available for nearly three weeks prior to that date.