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OSHA Issues Guidance to Inspectors on Silica

OSHA Compliance Directive on Silica

OSHA recently published a new compliance directive on procedures regarding respirable crystalline silica to ensure compliance officers are applying the law with consistency. The new directive provides guidance to inspectors in many different areas including:
• Methods of compliance.
• Table 1 tasks and specified exposure control methods.
• Exposure assessments.
• Housekeeping.
• Respiratory protection.
• Regulated areas.
• Record keeping.
• Employee information and training.
• Medical surveillance.
• Communication of hazards.
The directive makes it clear that for OSHA to determine whether the contractor is in compliance with Table 1, they will need to conduct air sampling. If results indicate noncompliance, the contractor can ask OSHA to undertake more air sampling.

What else does the standard require to be compliant?

Regardless of which exposure control method is used, all construction employers covered by the standard are required to:
• Establish and implement a written exposure control plan that identifies tasks that involve exposure and methods used to protect workers, including procedures to restrict access to work areas where high exposures may occur;
• Designate a competent person to implement the written exposure control plan;
• Restrict housekeeping practices that expose workers to silica, such as use of compressed air without a ventilation system to capture the dust and dry sweeping, where effective, safe alternatives are available;
• Offer medical exams—including chest X-rays and lung function tests—every three years for workers who are required by the standard to wear a respirator for 30 or more days per year;
• Train workers on the health effects of silica exposure, workplace tasks that can expose them to silica, and ways to limit exposure; and
• Keep records of workers’ silica exposure and medical exams.

If any of this is new, or you are unsure how to remain compliant with OSHA’s Silica standard, Trivent Safety Consulting has experts that can help your company. Give us a call, 800.819.6092.

Author: Bryan McClure

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