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OSHA Releases New Silica Exposure Standards

On March 25, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor released new standards for workplace exposure to silica dust, a type of sand often used in construction, manufacturing, and oil and gas industries.  Originally scheduled to be released in February 2016, the revised standards mark the first change in silica regulation since 1971.

The final rule is written as two standards—one for general industry and maritime, and one for construction—in order to tailor requirements specific to each industry. Both standards reduce the permissible level of airborne silica dust to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air—a 50% reduction from the previous limit of 100 micrograms per cubic meter. The rule specifies exposure control methods for each industry but also offers alternatives, including measuring the amount of silica if it may be at or above an “action level” of 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

With some exceptions, construction employers must comply with the new standards by June 23, 2017, and general industry and maritime employers have until June 23, 2018 to comply.

© Steptoe & Johnson PLLC. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume VI, Number 89
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About this Author

Jim Mulhall, Litigation Attorney, Steptoe Johnson Law FIrm
Member

Jim Mulhall is the leader of the firm's Products Liability Practice Group and Toxic Torts Team.  Mr. Mulhall concentrates his practice in the areas of asbestos, product liability, toxic torts, and mass tort litigation.  He is the co-chair of the International Dispute Resolution Practice Group in TerraLex.

(304) 933-8164
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