New Construction Products August 2017 - Page 12

OSHA’s Silica Rule is Here: Are You Ready? By Adele L. Abrams, Esq., CMSP Law Office of Adele L. Abrams PC On March 25, 2016, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) published its long-awaited final rule (606 pages long), establishing a stand-alone standard governing occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) in construction, general industry and maritime workplaces. This brings to a close a two-decade effort to update and expand the current standard, set in 1971, which had a Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 250 ug/ m 3 for RCS in the construction sector and maritime sectors, and a 100 ug/m 3 PEL in general industry, but no other employer requirements or protections for workers. All that is about to change in a big, big way. 10 New Construction Products • August ‘17 The new rule lowers the PEL to 50 ug/m 3 for all industry sectors, with an Action Level (AL) of 25 ug/m 3 that serves as the trigger for certain requirements of the rule. While portions of the general industry standard have an extend- ed period for compliance, the construction industry was singled out for a quicker timeline, and while the federal deadline was extended until September 23, 2017, con- struction companies in some state-plan OSHA states (e.g., Virginia and Kentucky) had to implement the rule by the original, June 23, 2017, deadline. General industry and maritime sector employers have