Oregon OSHA Issues Proposed Silica Rule

Legal Alert

In response to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s adoption of more stringent standards for crystalline silica, Oregon OSHA has proposed revisions to its own silica standards. Oregon OSHA’s rule largely mirrors the federal rule, but, unlike the federal rule, it combines general industry and construction standards into one set of rules.

If implemented, the new rule will (1) reduce the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica; (2) require employers to implement specified engineering controls and work practices to limit exposure; and (3) require employers to provide respiratory protection when engineering controls and work practices are not able to limit exposure to the permissible level.

As previously indicated, the new silica rule will significantly affect employers in the construction, maritime, and oil and gas industries. Crystalline silica is a common component of sand, stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar, and exposure occurs in common workplace operations involving cutting, sawing, drilling, and crushing of these materials.

Oregon OSHA has scheduled four public hearings on the proposed rule, and it will accept comment on the rule until September 16, 2016. Oregon OSHA anticipates adopting a final version of this rule by September 25, 2016.

Given the significant impacts any new silica rule will have on industrial employers in the state, potentially impacted businesses should carefully consider the impacts of the proposed rule and, as appropriate, participate in the rulemaking process by testifying at one of the public hearings or submitting written comments to Oregon OSHA.

For more information on the proposed rule and to learn more about the opportunities to become involved in the rulemaking process, visit Oregon OSHA’s web page for the proposed rule by clicking on the following link.

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