Opposition to New Silica Rule-June 2016

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety

June 2016

IN THIS ISSUE: Opposition to New Silica Rule

Ever since OSHA published the new silica rule earlier this year, both industry groups and labor groups have expressed their opposition. Although stakeholders participate in the rule-making process, this exercise occurs each time a change is attempted or enacted to a standard. In most cases, the rule stays the same.

Seven lawsuits have been filed in the federal courts, and there may be more to come. Industry filed five, and two were filed by labor. They have been consolidated and will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Industry groups claim the rule is not needed and is both technically and economically infeasible. They further argue that it uses out-of-date data and is too costly. Labor claims that the medical surveillance requirements can be improved as well as the provisions for medical removal protection.

Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, has stated that the silica rule will withstand the legal challenges and that lives will be saved. He added that within a few years many will wonder why it took so long to implement this rule and recognize the good that will have come from it.

The previous Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL), put into effect in 1971, did not adequately protect workers. The new PEL will be 50 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) with an Action Level of 25 ug/m3. In addition, the standards will include requirements for an exposure assessment, regulated areas, engineering and work practices controls, respiratory protection, housekeeping, medical surveillance, communication of hazards including signage and training, and recordkeeping. Other organizations, such as the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, have lowered their exposure limit and currently have a Threshold Limit of 25 ug/m3.

Silica has been shown to cause cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease. There will be two standards, one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. The construction standard will be designated 1926.1153 in the OSHA regulations and general industry and maritime will be 1910.1053. Although the standards are similar, the construction standard also lists job-specific engineering controls, work practices, and personal protective equipment. For more information see www.osha.gov/silica/index.html.

At this time, there is no change in the time table for compliance. Important dates to remember include:

Effective Date: June 23, 2016
Compliance Date for Construction: June 23, 2017
Compliance Date for General Industry: June 23, 2018
Compliance Date for Hydraulic Fracturing: June 23, 2018

For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or visit us at www.occusafeinc.com

OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.

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