OSHA continues silica rule compliance assistance for brief interim

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration outlined initial enforcement protocol of its revised standard, Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry and Maritime, most provisions of became enforceable in June. The standard establishes a new eight-hour time-weighted average permissible exposure limit and action level, plus associated ancillary requirements.

OSHA will offer compliance assistance this month for employers who make good faith efforts to abide the new exposure thresholds. “If upon inspection, it appears an employer is not making any efforts to comply, compliance officers should conduct air monitoring in accordance with Agency procedures, and consider citations for non-compliance with any applicable sections of the new standard,” OSHA Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Galen Blanton noted in an early-June memorandum to regional administrators. “Any proposed citations related to inspections conducted in this 30-day time period will require National Office review prior to issuance.”

The agency intends to issue interim enforcement guidance until a compliance directive on the new standards is finalized. OSHA’s Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry and Maritime, discusses methods of compliance, such as using engineering and work practice controls, assessing exposure levels, respirator use, medical surveillance, and written exposure plans.