Willa Perlmutter Outlines MSHA’s Proposed Rule Covering Respirable Silica Exposure at Mine Sites


In an article for North American Mining, Willa Perlmutter outlines the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) long-awaited proposed rule that would govern the allowable level of workplace exposure for miners to respirable crystalline silica at mine sites nationwide.

Following on the heels of its sister agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which announced its own silica rule in the Federal Register in 2016, over the summer of 2023 MSHA issued its proposed rule, noting the need to “amend its existing standards to better protect miners against occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica, a carcinogenic hazard, and to improve respiratory protection for all airborne hazards.”

According to Perlmutter, chair of Stoel Rives’ OSHA group and co-chair of the firm’s mining group, the proposed rule would:

  • Halve the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for miners with respect to respirable crystalline silica at or below 50 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) of air for a full shift exposure.
  • Require management to take immediate, defined corrective actions for an individual miner who is exposed to a silica concentration exceeding the PEL.
  • Require medical surveillance to be offered at no cost to all miners on a voluntary basis at least every five years.
  • Mandate medical surveillance for all miners who enter the industry for the first time after the effective date of the rule.

Perlmutter concludes, “Remember that this is just a proposed rule. In other words, some or all of it may or may not be turned into a final, binding rule in the future. … The proposed silica rule is still subject to review and revision, and a final rule could still be months or even years out.”

Read the full article here.

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