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OSHA Delays Enforcement of Silica Standard for Construction

Meinert, Kyle2.jpgOSHA originally set an enforcement date of June 23, but has delayed it to September 23 of this year. They delay is due to OSHA wanting "to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers", but it is likely this delay will lead to a cut of this potential new standard. So - what should employers do?

What is crystalline silica?

Crystalline silica is a common mineral that is found in materials that we see every day in roads, buildings, and sidewalks. It is a common component of sand, stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar.

Exposures to crystalline silica dust occur in common workplace operations involving cutting, sawing, drilling, and crushing of concrete, brick, block, rock  stone products (such as construction tasks), and operations using sand products (such as in glass manufacturing, foundries, sand blasting, and hydraulic fracturing). 

Controversy over the ruling

This rule has brought forth much positive and negative feedback since OSHA published on March 25, 2016. Those opposed to the ruling are worried about the impact it'll have on jobs. Those for the ruling feel it will save more than 600 lives and prevent more than 900 cases of silicosis every year.

What should employers do?

Despite the three month delay, employers in the construction industry should continue operating as they were. While it's always a good idea to limit the exposure of silica to the employees, any changes to the program now may be no longer be warranted if this regulation does fall through. 

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Topics: Construction Safety / Compliance