OSHA Law Alert: OSHA Issues Final Silica Rule

Legal Alert
OSHA has announced the finalization of its long-awaited silica rule. When it takes effect on June 23, 2016, the 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.

The rule will have significant impacts on 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.

OSHA has established a phased compliance schedule. Construction employers will have until June 23, 2017, to comply with the rule; general industry and maritime employers will have until June 23, 2018, to comply with the rule; and oil and gas employers will have until June 23, 2021, to comply with the required engineering controls and June 23, 2018, to comply with the other requirements in their hydraulic fracturing operations.

The 28 states that administer their own safety and health programs will have six months to adopt standards that are at least as effective as the federal silica standards.

Given the relatively short compliance deadline, construction industry employers should begin assessing their compliance with the requirements of the new rule as soon as possible to ensure that they have adopted the necessary policies and procedures. For more information regarding the impact of the new silica rule on the construction industry, please visit Stoel Rives’ Ahead of Schedule blog.

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