The Silica Standard for the General and Maritime Industries | SAFETYCAL, INC.

The Silica Standard for the General and Maritime Industries

The Silica Standard for the General and Maritime Industries
 
Some say OSHA enforcement has trailed off. But with over 116 silica violations in just six short months, it doesn’t look like hefty fines are falling behind. Don't let violations happen to you. Get compliant and learn OSHA requirements here.
 
If you don’t work in the agriculture, construction or maritime industries, you work in the general or maritime industries. And per OSHA, that means you’ve got to comply with the Silica Standard. 

OSHA’s Respirable Crystalline Silica standard for the general industry and maritime (​29 CFR​ 1910.1053  1926.1153 1926.1153(d)(2)(v)requires employers to limit worker exposure to respirable crystalline and to take necessary steps to protect workers.

When silica dust is inhaled, it can scar lung tissues that often times leads to the lung disease silicosis, making breathing obstinate and causing:
  • Silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death
  • Lung cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and
  • Kidney disease 
To protect workers, most provisions of the standard become enforceable for the general industry and maritime on June 23, 2018.
 
Awareness is the key to safety compliance and per OSHA, as the employer, you are required to post signs at all entrances to regulate areas that bear the following legend: DANGER RESPIRABLE CRYSTALLINE SILICA MAY CAUSE CANCER CAUSES DAMAGE TO LUNGS WEAR RESPIRATORY PROTECTION IN THIS AREA AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY
 
What are the OSHA Silica requirements?
 
The Respirable Crystalline Silica standard for general industry and maritime established:
  1. A new 8-hour
  2. Time-weighted average (TWA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m³), and an action level (AL) of 25 μg/m³.  
  3. It also requires other employee protections, such as performing exposure assessments, using exposure control methods, using respiratory protection, establishing regulated areas, developing and implementing a written exposure control plan, offering medical surveillance, developing hazard communication information, and keeping silica-related records.
Silica standard requires general and maritime employers to: 
  • Assess employee exposures to silica if it may be at or above an action level of 25 µg/m3 (micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air), averaged over an 8-hour day;
  • Protect workers from respirable crystalline silica exposures above the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, averaged over an 8-hour day;
  • Limit workers' access to areas where they could be exposed above the PEL;
  • Use dust controls to protect workers from silica exposures above the PEL;
  • Provide respirators to workers when dust controls cannot limit exposures to the PEL;
  • Use housekeeping methods that do not create airborne dust, if feasible;
  • Establish and implement a written exposure control plan that identifies tasks that involve exposure and methods used to protect workers;
  • Offer medical exams - including chest X-rays and lung function tests - every three years for workers exposed at or above the action level for 30 or more days per year;
  • Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure; and
  • Keep records of exposure measurements, objective data, and medical exams.
General industry and maritime employers must comply with all requirements of the standard by June 23, 2018, except for the following:
  • June 23, 2020: Medical surveillance must be offered to employees who will be exposed at or above the action level for 30 or more days a year. 
    • Medical surveillance must be offered to employees who will be exposed above the PEL for 30 or more days a year starting on June 23, 2018.​
  • June 23, 2021: Hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry must implement engineering controls to limit exposures to the new PEL.
How will the silica rule protect workers’ health?
The new rule requires employers to use engineering controls – such as ventilation and wet methods for cutting and sawing crystalline silica-containing materials. Once the full effects of the rule are realized, OSHA expects it to prevent 600 deaths a year from silica-related diseases – such as silicosis, lung cancer, other respiratory and kidney diseases.
This standard should prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year.

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