NASF: OSHA Proposes New Workplace Exposure Standard for Respirable Crystalline Silica

Proposed rule would establish a new PEL of 50 μg/m3 with an action level 25 μg/m3 calculated as an eight-hour time-weighted average for general industry, half of the current standard
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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued a proposed rule for occupational exposure of respirable crystalline silica. 78 Fed. Reg. 56274 (2013).

The proposed rule would establish a new permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 μg/m3 with an action level 25 μg/m3 (calculated as an eight-hour time-weighted average) for general industry (half of the current standard). This new standard could impact grinding, sand blasting and other processes at surface finishing operations that use sand.

Exceeding these limits would trigger a host of administrative and regulatory controls, including initial medical monitoring and periodic exposure assessments, engineering and work practice controls, personal protective equipment, respiratory protection (when engineering and work practice controls are insufficient to meet the PEL), training, and recordkeeping.

On Oct. 25, 2013, OSHA announced it was extending the comment period and other deadlines for the proposed rule. The new deadline to submit written comments and testimony is Jan. 27, 2014. OSHA will be conducting public hearings on the proposed rule, which are now scheduled to begin on March 18, 2014. The deadline to submit notices of intention to appear at these hearings is now December 12, 2013. The public hearings for this rulemaking are expected to continue for several weeks.

Additional information on the proposed rule, including five fact sheets and procedures for submitting written comments and participating in public hearings, is available on the OSHA website at osha.gov/silica.  For additional information, contact Jeff Hannapel at jhannapel@thepolicygroup.com.

National Association for Surface Finishing