OSHA Takes Steps to Revise Silica Standard for Construction
On July 29th OSHA submitted a draft Request for Information (RFI) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regarding Table 1 in OSHA’s construction standard for silica. If approved by OMB, OSHA intends to issue the RFI in the Federal Register to determine if revisions to Table 1 may be appropriate.
On March 25, 2016, OSHA published a final rule on Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica. The final rule contained two separate standards regulating respirable crystalline silica, one for construction, and one for general industry and maritime. The construction standard includes Table 1: Specified Exposure Control Methods When Working With Materials Containing Crystalline Silica. This table identifies common construction tasks and establishes dust control methods, including respirator usage, that have been shown to be effective in protecting against silica exposure. Construction employers who follow Table 1 are not required to monitor employee exposure to silica and are not subject to the permissible exposure limit (PEL).
According to the Spring Regulatory Agenda the RFI would seek “information on the effectiveness of control measures not currently included for tasks and tools listed in Table 1. The Agency is also interested in tasks and tools involving exposure to respirable crystalline silica that are not currently listed in Table 1, along with information on the effectiveness of dust control methods in limiting worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica when performing those operations.”
If issued, the RFI could eventually pave the way for revisions to Table 1 identifying additional common construction tasks with corresponding dust control methods, thereby easing the burden of construction employers in addressing respirable silica exposure.