OSHA adds six weeks to comment period for proposed crystalline silica exposure limit

Sources: Occupational Safety and Health Administration; CP staff

The public comment period for OSHA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica continues through January 27, following the agency’s decision to extend an original December 11 deadline.

OSHA proposes lower, harmonized permissible exposure limits (PEL) for quartz from current general industry and construction thresholds—100 and 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3) expressed in eight-hour weighted averages, respectively—to 50 µg/m3. The notice of proposed rulemaking was posted on the osha.gov site in late August, and formally published last month in the Federal Register, triggering a 90-day public comment period.

The agency is also extending the deadline to submit notices of intention to appear at its informal public hearings from November 12 to December 12. Public hearings are scheduled to begin March 18, 2014, the duration of each to be determined by the number of parties who request to appear.

“We strongly encourage the public to assist in the process of developing a final rule by submitting written comments and participating in public hearings,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “We especially hope to hear from employers, workers and public health professionals who have experience in successfully protecting workers from silica-related diseases.”

The extended comment period and public hearings will be followed with a post-hearing comment period. Members of the public who filed a timely written notice of intention to appear will be able to submit post-hearing comments to the docket.

Additional information on the proposed rule, including five fact sheets and procedures for submitting written comments and participating in public hearings, is available at http://www.osha.gov/silica/. Members of the public may comment on the proposal by visiting http://www.regulations.gov.