On September 23, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) began enforcement of the new respirable crystalline silica in construction standard, codified at 29 CFR § 1926.1153. This standard establishes a new 8-hour time-weighted average Permissible Exposure Limit (“PEL”) of 50 μg/m3, an action level of 25 μg/m3, and a “host of ancillary requirements.” In a recent letter of interpretation, Thomas Galassi, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary to OSHA Regional Administrators, announced that for the first thirty (30) days of enforcement, “OSHA will carefully evaluate good faith efforts taken by employers in their attempts to meet the new construction silica standard.” During this time, OSHA intends to focus on providing assistance to employers to ensure their understanding of the new requirements and their full and proper compliance with implementation of the standard. While OSHA’s attention may be directed more toward understanding and compliance in the first thirty days as opposed to enforcement, if, upon inspection, OSHA determines that an employer is not making any efforts to comply with the standard, OSHA may consider issuing a citation to that employer. Any citation resulting from an inspection during this time period will be subject to National Office review.
For more information on the OSHA announcement or its new silica exposure standard, contact Steve O’Day.