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The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration will delay enforcement of its silica standard for the construction industry.
The Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica rule reduces the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica over an eight-hour shift to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air for the construction industry, one-fifth of the previous maximum, as well as for general industry and the maritime industry, half of the previous maximum.
But the agency announced it would delay enforcement of the rule, scheduled to begin on June 23, to Sept. 23 because of the need to provide additional guidance on the silica rule’s requirements for the construction industry, according to an agency press release issued on Thursday.
“OSHA expects employers in the construction industry to continue to take steps either to come into compliance with the new permissible exposure limit or to implement specific dust controls for certain operations as provided in Table 1 of the standard,” the agency said. “Construction employers should also continue to prepare to implement the standard’s other requirements, including exposure assessment, medical surveillance and employee training.”
The silica rule provides guidance commonly referred to as Table 1 outlining exposure control methods for selected construction operations, with employers who follow these methods not required to measure workers' exposure and not subject to the permissible exposure limit.
The silica rule is also the subject of an ongoing legal challenge.
A coalition of trade associations urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to vacate the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s silica rule, challenging both the need for the rule and the agency’s determination of its feasibility.