Last year OSHA made a final ruling regarding permissible exposure limits (PELs) for respirable crystalline silica. This ruling will have a large impact on the construction and demolition community as crystalline silica is a very common material found in concrete, sand, brick, stone, and many other raw materials used to make roads and buildings.According to the latest OSHA estimations, this rule will affect nearly two million workers on more than 600,000 job sites, who are currently being exposed to silica. Several diseases including lung cancer, silicosis, and other respiratory illnesses, have all been linked to prolonged silica exposure.The new rule stipulates that the daily PEL cannot exceed 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air in an eight-hour work day. To enforce the new rule, OSHA created a table for construction and demolition companies to use as a reference.Although the construction industry doesn’t have to be fully compliant with the new rule until June 23rd, it is advised that companies start the process of creating methods and procedures to be compliant. For companies who want to get ahead of the curve, here are a few things to do.
- Examine the official rule in its entirety.
- Review the company’s current silica policies and see what changes will need to be made.
- Decide which monitoring method will work best for the company.
- Create a training program for current and new employees to educate them on the new rule.
- Map out a compliance schedule and set goals to ensure full compliance by June 23rd.
- Look into a medical evaluation plan for employees who exceed the PEL.