OSHA Begins Enforcement of the Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction: What will they be looking for?
Posted: Sep 26, 2017
By Renee Witherspoon, CSP, CIH, CHMM, South Plains Chapter, Past President (2012-2015)
As of September 23, 2017 OSHA began enforcement of its new Crystalline Silica standard (29 CFR 1926.1153) for Construction establishing an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, an action level (AL) of 25 µg/m3, as well as other requirements.
During the first 30 days of enforcement, OSHA will continue to evaluate good faith efforts taken by employers to meet this new standard. According to a September 20 memorandum from Thomas Galassi, Acting Deputy Assistance Secretary for OSHA, they will provide “compliance assistance and outreach to assure that covered employers are fully and properly complying with its requirements.” In the memo he says that OSHA will focus on assisting employers in implementing the controls described in Table 1. If an employer is not making any efforts to comply, the OSHA compliance officer will conduct air monitoring and the employer may receive a citation. If a citation is proposed within this first 30 days, it will be required to be reviewed by the national office.
This memo also states that OSHA is in the process of developing interim inspection and citation guidance but as of September 26, the local Lubbock Area Office has not received this interim guidance on enforcement. With use of phrases like “fully and properly” in this September 20 memo, it does provide some guidance on what OSHA will be looking for when doing a compliance investigation.