On September 23, OSHA’s new Silica Dust Standard went into effect. The new standard requires a more stringent “permissible exposure limit”, moving from approximately 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 50 micrograms over an 8 hour day.
KEY POINTS FROM THE NEW SILICA DUST STANDARD
OSHA offers three methods an employer can choose from to demonstrate compliance and assess employee exposure:
1. Table 1: a table of pre-defined tasks and specified control methods
2. Performance or ‘Objective Data’: assess exposure by providing objective data proving the control method used reduces silica dust exposure below the permissible exposure level
3. Scheduled Air Monitoring program: assess exposure by implementing a scheduled air monitoring program to ensure employees are not exposed above 50 micrograms
Employers are required to have a written exposure control plan.
Medical surveillance (exams) must be offered for employees required by the standard to wear a respirator for 30 or more days per year.