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“ANSI Emergency Eyewash, Shower Standard Revised – Are You In Compliance?”

By Roy Maurer  12/7/2015

The national consensus standard for the selection, installation and maintenance of emergency eye, face and shower equipment was recently updated.

The International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) received American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approval for ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014, American National Standard for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment, and the update went into effect January 2015.

There is no grandfather clause, and existing equipment must be compliant with the revised standard.

“This globally accepted standard continues to be the authoritative document that specifies minimum performance criteria for flow rates, temperature and drenching patterns,” said Imants Stiebris, chairman of the ISEA Emergency Eyewash and Shower Group and safety products business leader at Speakman Co.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a general requirement specifying where and when emergency eyewash and shower equipment must be available, but it does not specify operating or installation requirements.

That’s where the ANSI/ISEA standard comes in. While it doesn’t have the full force of an OSHA regulation, the standard helps employers meet OSHA requirements.

“Safety showers and eyewashes are your first line of defense should there be an accident,” said Casey Hayes, director of operations for Haws Integrated, a firm that designs, builds and manages custom-engineered industrial water safety systems. “We’ve seen OSHA stepping up enforcement of the standard in the last couple of years and issuing more citations,” he said.

What Is ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014?

The standard covers plumbed and self-contained emergency showers and emergency eyewash equipment, eye/face wash equipment, combination units, personal wash units and hand-held drench hoses. These systems are typically found in manufacturing facilities, construction sites, laboratories, medical offices and other workplaces.

The standard specifies minimum performance criteria for flow rates, temperature and drenching patterns for a user to adequately rinse off a contaminant in an emergency situation. It also provides maintenance directives to ensure that the equipment is in proper working condition.

One of the most significant requirements of the standard deals with the location of the equipment, Hayes said, and “It’s probably the most difficult part for employers to comply with.” The equipment must be accessible to workers within 10 seconds—a vague requirement, according to Hayes—but the standard’s appendix references 55 feet, he pointed out.

The wash or shower must be located on the same level as the hazard. “You can’t have somebody working on a stairwell and have to go up or down a flight to get to the shower. The equipment needs to be installed on the same level where the accident could happen,” he said.

The wash station must also be free of obstructions. “Someone needing to get to the shower or eyewash could be in a panic—their eyes could be blinded by chemicals—so employers must ensure that the shower is accessible and free of obstructions,” he said.

All equipment must be identified with highly visible signage, must be well-lit, and needs to be able to go from “off” to “on” in one second or less.

“The volume of water that is required for a 15-minute flow is not always considered,” Hayes said. The standard requires the victim to endure a flushing flow for a minimum of 15 minutes. With water pressure from the drench shower 10 times the amount of a typical residential shower, “that is a significant amount of water, and you need to deal with it on the floor and from a capacity standpoint,” he said.

The comfort of the person using the wash also needs to be considered. “It is not a pleasant experience to put your eyes in the path of water. The controlled flow of flushing fluid must be at a velocity low enough to be noninjurious to the user,” Hayes said.

The standard stipulates minimum flow rates of:

  • 0.4 gallons per minute for eyewashes.
  • 3 gallons per minute for eye/face washes. A good eye/face wash will have separate dedicated flows of water for your eyes and face, Hayes said.
  • 20 gallons per minute for showers. That’s 300 gallons of water required for the 15-minute wash.

Washes must deliver tepid water defined as between 60 degrees and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Studies have shown that tepid water increases the chances that a victim can tolerate the required 15-minute wash. Tepid water also encourages the removal of contaminated clothing, which acts as a barrier to the flushing fluid.

“We’re also seeing employers putting showers in enclosed areas or in curtained areas, to promote the removal of clothing and alleviate workers’ privacy concerns,” Hayes said.

2014 Revisions to the Standard

There weren’t that many changes to the 2009 standard, but a few highlights include the following:

  • A requirement was included that emergency showers be designed, manufactured and installed in such a way that, once activated, they can be operated without the use of hands.
  • The way the height of eyewashes and eye/face washes are measured changed from the floor to the wash basin to from the floor to the water flow. The height should still be between 33 inches and 53 inches. “Something to consider when inspecting washes is to ensure that, even though your wash fits within these limits, it’s still realistically usable,” Hayes said.
  • A single step up into an enclosure where the wash is accessed is not considered an obstruction. This had not been addressed previously.

The 2014 version further clarifies that fluid flow location and pattern delivery for emergency eyewashes and eye/face washes is the critical aspect in designing and installing these devices, rather than the positioning of nozzles. Additionally, illustrations have been updated to reflect contemporary design configurations.

Best Practices

Hayes recommended a few best practices that go above and beyond the standard and that he has seen used at companies with strong safety cultures:

  • Locate washes and showers in areas with adequate space for emergency responders to fulfill their duties. “If the equipment is in a tight space, you’re preventing responders from helping victims,” he said. Enclosures can be built to allow multiple people to be inside.
  • Monitor and evaluate all accessible components of washes and showers on a frequent and routine basis to manage potential problems.
  • Use eye/face washes in lieu of simply eyewashes. “It’s highly unlikely that a chemical splash will only land on your eye surface. This is common sense, so put in the right equipment,” he said.
  • Check that the washes meet the proper gauge height. The standard’s weekly activation requirement is mainly to ensure that water is available and to clear sediment buildup. “While a quick activation might seem sufficient, it’s not an accurate representation of functionality for the required 15-minute flush,” Hayes said. “If water is there but doesn’t rise up to the proper gauge height, you are compliant, but that equipment may fail you in the event that it’s needed.”

The ISEA’s new Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment Selection, Installation and Use Guide is a document that provides assistance on the proper selection, use and maintenance of equipment. The 22-page guide includes a frequently asked questions section and an annual inspection checklist.

The guide is available for download in PDF format.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

– See more at: http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/safetysecurity/articles/pages/emergency-eyewash-standard-revised.aspx#sthash.LEfV88ib.dpuf

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“OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard To Add Two Additional Fit-Testing Protocols”

OSHA Trade ReleaseDOL Logo


U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Office of Communications
Washington, D.C.
www.osha.gov
For Immediate Release

 

October 6, 2016
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA proposes to amend respiratory protection standard to add
two additional fit-testing protocols

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to add two quantitative fit-testing protocols to the agency’s Respiratory Protection Standard. The protocols would apply to employers in the general, shipyard and construction industries.

Appendix A of the standard contains mandatory respirator fit-testing methods that employers must use to ensure their employees’ respirators fit properly and protect the wearer. The standard also allows individuals to submit new fit-test protocols for OSHA approval. TSI Incorporated submitted an application for new protocols for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators, and filtering facepiece respirators.

The existing standard contains mandatory testing methods to ensure that employees’ respirators fit properly and are protective. The standard also states that additional fit-test protocols may be submitted for OSHA approval. TSI Incorporated submitted an application for new protocols for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators, and filtering facepiece respirators. The proposed protocols are variations of the existing OSHA-accepted PortaCount® protocol, but differ from it by the exercise sets, exercise duration, and sampling sequence.

The agency invites the public to comment on the accuracy and reliability of the proposed protocols, their effectiveness in detecting respirator leakage, and their usefulness in selecting respirators that will protect employees from airborne contaminants in the workplace. More specific issues for public comment are listed in the Federal Register notice.

Individuals may submit comments electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Comments may also be submitted by mail or facsimile; see the Federal Register notice for details. The deadline for submitting comments is Dec. 6, 2016.

This proposed rulemaking would allow employers greater flexibility in choosing fit-testing methods for employees. The proposed rule would not require an employer to update or replace current fit-testing methods, as long as the fit-testing method(s) currently in use meet existing standards. The proposal also would not impose additional costs on any private- or public-sector entity.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department’s Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).

“N95 Day: A NIOSH-Approved Holiday”

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Today is the 5th annual N95 Day, which focuses on respiratory protection awareness and proper use of N95 respirators. Here are some ways you can participate:

  • Social media. Look for N95-related information on Twitter (@NIOSH, @NPPTL, #N95Day) Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest as well as the annual N95 Day NIOSH Science Blog. Share NIOSH’s infographics, and be sure to follow ASSE (@ASSE_Safety) and other campaign partners to find free training, resources, and safety tips.
  • Hospital respiratory protection program resources. NIOSH has launched a web page of resources dedicated to hospital respiratory protection programs.
  • Webinars. NIOSH is presenting two webinars this year: 1) The Science Behind Respirator Fit Testing in the Workplace: Past, Present and Future; and 2)  Why Do We Have to Fit Test? And Why Every Year? Although registration is now closed, the agency will post the webinar videos and slides after the event. Check the campaign page for updates.
  • ASSE materials. Check out ASSE’s Tech Brief on ANSI/ASSE Z88.2-2015, Practices for Respiratory Protection and visit our respiratory protection standards page.

Source: ASSE, NIOSH, CDC

“The Importance of Eyewash Station Maintenance and Monitoring”

Many different types of industries are required to install and maintain eyewash stations for their employees’ safety and health. These eyewash stations are an important safety device that can be instrumental for mitigating a number of different types of eye injuries.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reports that work-related eye injuries cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses and worker compensation. Eyewash stations, whether permanently connected to a source of potable water or having self-contained flushing fluid, can help save workers’ eyesight and reduce costs associated with eye injuries.

However, eyewash stations require proper maintenance or they may present health hazards that can worsen or cause additional damage to a worker’s eye. According to OSHA, water found in improperly maintained eyewash stations is more likely to contain microorganisms that thrive in stagnant or untreated water and are known to cause infections.

“When an incident occurs and a worker uses an eyewash station that is not maintained, organisms that could be in the water can come into contact with the eyes, skin or may even be inhaled,” said Franco Seif, President of Clark Seif Clark. “A partial list of microorganisms that OSHA reports could contaminant an improperly maintained eyewash station include:Acanthamoeba, Legionella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A worker using an eyewash station after exposure to a hazardous chemical or material may have eye injuries that make the eye more susceptible to infection. In addition, workers with skin damage or compromised immune systems are at an increased risk of developing illnesses from contaminated water.”

To help prevent these scenarios from occurring, Clark Seif Clark offers eyewash station monitoring and microbial pathogen testing services. They also provide a wide range of other industrial hygiene and occupational, health and safety services. To help educate people about eyewash stations and potential microbial risks from improper maintenance, Clark Seif Clark recently sponsored an educational video that can be seen above and at: https://youtu.be/Nb9XdcO1cZk

To learn more about microbial testing and monitoring or other occupational, environmental, indoor air quality, health and safety and consulting services, please visit www.csceng.com, email csc@csceng.com or call (800) 807-1118.

About Clark Seif Clark
CSC was established in 1989 to help clients in both public and private sectors address environmental, IAQ, and health and safety (EH&S) issues. CSC is a leading provider of these services with multiple offices along the western seaboard and southwest. The company believes in science-based protocols and has a strong background in engineering, making them the preferred environmental consultants to industrial clients, healthcare facilities, architects, schools, builders, contractors, developers and real estate professionals.

Source: Chatsworth, CA – WEBWIRE – Monday, August 8, 2016

“TSCA Reform: A Simple 5-point Summary of What You Need to Know “

After 40 years, the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA) has been reformed in an effort to more effectively manage chemicals in this country and give EPA more authority to evaluate and mitigate the associated risks. This infographic summarizes the important points of TSCA reform.

TF-TSCA-reform-info

“Maximum Civil Penalties for Violations of Environmental (USEPA) Statutes Are Now Significantly Higher After Inflation Adjustment”

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In a federal rulemaking published last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued interim final regulations adjusting the maximum civil penalty dollar amounts for violations of various provisions of law. 81 Fed. Reg. 43091 (July 1, 2016).

The recently enacted Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (2015 Act), not only required an adjustment form current penalty maximum levels to account for inflation, but also included a catch-up provision for inflation. That requires each agency to evaluate and provide for an inflation adjustment dating back to the enactment of the relevant statute’s effective date. (Section 5(b)(2)(C) of the 2015 Act provides that the maximum amount of any initial catch-up increase shall not exceed 150 percent of the level that was in effect on November 2, 2015.) See related Implementation of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act, OMB Memorandum M-16-06 (February 24, 2016). In addition, beginning January 15, 2017, each agency must make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation.

EPA’s interim final rule revises Table 2 to 40 CFR 19.4, showing the results of the Agency’s calculations and adjustments, that include: (1) the maximum or minimum penalty level established when each statutory section was originally enacted or last adjusted by Congress; and (2) the statutory maximum or minimum civil penalty level, adjusted for inflation under the 2015 Act, that applies to statutory civil penalties assessed on or after August 1, 2016 for violations that occurred after November 2, 2015.

Readers familiar with EPA’s penalty structure know that statutory penalties of $25,000 per day per violation were previously adjusted for inflation to $37,500. With the catch up provision under the interim final rule, the maximum penalty will vary by statute. For example, the $25,000 per violation penalty under the Clean Air Act is now $44,539; under the Clean Water Act is now $44,539; under RCRA is now in a range of $56,467 to $70,117, and under CERCLA (including most EPCRA violations) is now $53,907. Other maximum penalties are also adjusted.

The new civil penalty amounts are applicable only to civil penalties assessed after Aug. 1, 2016, whose associated violations occurred after Nov. 2, 2015.

For more information on this or any related topic please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Environmental Compliance, Enforcement & Permitting Team.

Source: Seyfarth, Shaw

“New TSCA Law Starts NOW!”

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“For the first time in 20 years, we are updating a national environmental statute,” said President Obama before signing the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act on Wednesday. The president noted that the updated law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which took effect in 1976 “didn’t quite work the way it should have in practice.” That was a vast understatement, particularly in regard to the regulation of existing chemicals. The president pointed out that of the 62,000 chemicals in the marketplace in 1976, only 5 have been banned.

“Five,” said the president. “And only a tiny percentage have even been reviewed for health and safety. The system was so complex, it was so burdensome that our country hasn’t even been able to uphold a ban on asbestos—a known carcinogen that kills as many as 10,000 Americans every year.”

The president added that the new law will do away with an outdated bureaucratic formula to evaluate safety and, instead, focus solely on the risks to public health.

Industry Pushed Hard

The law passed both chambers of Congress with overwhelming, but not unanimous, support. Pockets of resistance remain, particularly regarding the law’s provision allowing federal preemption of state action on chemicals the EPA is reviewing. Nonetheless, the law made it to the president’s desk despite today’s extremely partisan climate in Washington. The president noted that passage of the legislation revived the bipartisan tradition of the early 1970s when Democrats and Republicans came together to pass “those pillars of legislation to protect our air, and our water, and our wildlife.”

The president specifically thanked the American Chemistry Council and S.C. Johnson, both of which “pushed hard for this law,” noting also that the law “gives them the certainty they need to keep out-innovating and out-competing companies from other parts of the world.”

In its statement of support following congressional approval, S.C. Johnson spoke favorably of EPA’s new authority to systematically prioritize all chemicals currently in commerce for safety evaluations.

What’s Next?

The law took effect with the president’s signature.  The major deadlines in the law apply to the EPA. As the EPA sees it, the most immediate effect is on the new chemicals review process. The Agency is now required to make an affirmative determination on a new chemical or significant new use of an existing chemical before manufacturing can commence. For companies that submitted premanufacture notices (PMNs) before enactment, which are currently undergoing review, the new law effectively resets the 90-day review period.

EPA’s other deadlines include the following:

  • Within 180 days, the Agency must publish an initial list of at least 10 high-priority chemicals and 10 low-priority chemicals. Within 3.5 years, the EPA must have 20 ongoing risk evaluations.
  • The EPA must publish an annual goal for the number of chemicals to be subject to the prioritization screening process. The Agency must also keep current and publish a list of chemicals (1) that are being considered in the prioritization process, (2) for which prioritization decisions have been postponed, and (3) that are designed as high- or low-priority chemicals.
  • When unreasonable risks are identified, the EPA must take final risk management action within 2 years or 4 years if an extension is needed.
  • Within 2 years, the EPA must develop any policies, procedures, and guidance necessary to carry out the bill’s requirements with respect to (1) requesting safety data from manufacturers or processors, (2) prioritizing existing chemicals for evaluation of their risks, (3) reviewing new chemicals or significant new uses of existing chemicals, and (4) conducting safety assessments and safety determinations on whether a chemical meets the safety standard. Those policies, procedures, and guidances must be reviewed every 5 years and revised as necessary to reflect new scientific developments or understandings.
  • Within 9 months, the EPA must publish a list of those chemical substances it has a reasonable basis to conclude are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT). Within 2 years after enactment, the EPA must designate as a chemical of concern each chemical substance on the PBT list. Not later than 2 years after this designation, the Agency must promulgate a rule with respect to the chemical substance to reduce likely exposure to the extent practicable.
  • Any confidential business information (CBI) claims to protect the specific identities of existing, active chemicals on the list from disclosure would need to be reaffirmed and substantiated. The EPA must maintain both a confidential and nonconfidential portion of its chemical inventory. Within 5 years of compiling that list of active chemicals, the EPA must establish a plan to review all CBI claims.
Funding

Also, the law provides a means for the Agency to collect the money it will need to do all of the above and more. Specifically, the statute allows the Agency to collect up to $25 million a year in user fees from chemical manufacturers and processors in addition to supplements approved by Congress.

The new TSCA law is here.

Source: BLR

“Are You In Compliance?”-“June 1, 2016 – HAZCOM And GHS, The Final Deadline”

HazCom and GHS: The Final Deadline

HazCom and GHS: The Final Deadline by Safety.BLR.com

June 1, 2016, is the final deadline in the 4-year phase-in period for OSHA’s 2012 revisions to the hazard communication standard that aligned with the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, or GHS. Check out the infographic for an overview of what the final deadline requires and tips to make sure your facility is prepared.

“RMP Changes Are Almost Here, Stay A Step Ahead”

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By Timothy P Fagan, Senior Legal Editor

It has been 3 years since the ammonium nitrate explosion in West, Texas, killed 15 people, injured hundreds, and caused widespread damage.  Just a few months after that event, President Obama’s Executive Order (EO) 13650 set into motion actions by numerous government agencies designed to enhance the safety and security of chemical facilities and reduce the risks that hazardous chemicals pose to owners and operators, workers, and communities.

In addition to enhancing cooperation and information sharing among federal agencies and state and local authorities, the activities stemming from EO 13650 included modernizing key regulations, such as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Risk Management Program (RMP) and OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) Program.  To that end, the EPA recently proposed amendments to RMP regulations under 40 CFR 68, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has made policy changes with respect to PSM that will impact how facilities comply with the RMP.

What changes are coming?

The changes to RMP regulations being proposed by the EPA impact the implementation of release prevention programs, the development of emergency response plans, and the sharing of information.

Release prevention programs.  The proposed changes to the accidental release prevention programs include:

  • Requiring all facilities with Program Level 2 or 3 processes to conduct root cause analyses as part of any incident investigation of a catastrophic release or a “near miss.” Identifying the root cause rather than the immediate cause will be more beneficial in preventing similar accidents in the future.
  • Requiring all facilities with Program Level 2 or 3 processes to hire an independent third party to perform a compliance audit after the facility has a reportable release.  Currently, such audits are self-audits, so requiring a third party increases the objectivity of the audit.
  • Requiring facilities in the paper manufacturing, petroleum and coal products manufacturing, and chemical manufacturing sectors with Program 3 processes to conduct a safer technology and alternatives analysis (STAA) as part of the process hazard analysis that must be updated every 5 years.  The facilities must then evaluate the feasibility of any inherently safer technology (IST) identified in the STAA.   The implementation of IST potentially reduces the risk of accidental releases within these industries, which the EPA has identified as having a disproportionate share of reportable releases.

Emergency response plans.  The proposed changes to emergency response plans include:

  • Requiring all facilities with Program Level 2 or 3 processes to coordinate with the local emergency response agencies at least once a year to ensure that resources and capabilities are in place to respond to an accidental release and to ensure that emergency contact information is up to date.  Effective coordination and communication between facilities and emergency responders can reduce the severity of accidental chemical releases.
  • Requiring all facilities with Program Level 2 or 3 processes that have developed their own emergency response plan to conduct a full field exercise at least once every 5 years and one tabletop exercise annually in the other years.   In addition, such facilities that have a reportable accident would be required to conduct a full field exercise within 1 year of the accident.  Such exercises will help ensure that all emergency response personnel understand their roles and responsibilities and be better prepared in the event of a real accident.

Access to information.  The proposed changes to accessing RMP information include:

  • Requiring RMP facilities to provide certain basic information to the public through easily accessible means such as a facility website.  If no website exists, the owner or operator may provide the information at public libraries or government offices or use other means appropriate for particular locations and facilities.
  • Requiring RMP facilities to hold a public meeting after an RMP reportable accident.
  • Requiring certain facilities to provide, on request, local emergency response agencies with summaries of audits, emergency response exercises, investigation reports, and implemented ISTs.
The surprising omission

After the issuance of EO 13650, there was significant speculation that the modernization of RMP regulations would involve additions to the listed chemicals regulated under 40 CFR 68 and a reevaluation of the thresholds at which chemicals became subject to the RMP.  However, the EPA opted not to regulate any additional chemicals under the RMP, nor did the agency change any of the thresholds as part of the recently released proposed regulations.

OSHA’s impact on RMP

Any RMP process that is subject to OSHA’s PSM must comply with Program Level 3 requirements, the most stringent requirements.  Last year OSHA revised its interpretation of the PSM standard’s retail facility exemption, which will result in thousands of facilities no longer being exempt from PSM.  Most of these facilities are already subject to the RMP under Program Level 2, but the change in the exemption interpretation will result in these facilities becoming Program Level 3 facilities.  OSHA will begin enforcing the new exemption interpretation on September 30, 2016, and the EPA will require risk management plan updates within the following 6 months.

What happens next?

For several years there has been speculation about what changes would be made to RMP regulations and how facilities would be impacted.  Now the proposed regulations are here, and facilities must begin the evaluation process.  Facilities must evaluate the proposed regulations and provide comments to the EPA, if necessary, and facilities must evaluate their own programs, procedures, and plans to determine what changes must be implemented to ensure continued compliance with a changing RMP.

“OSHA’s Final Rule to Protect Workers from Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica”

Rule requires engineering controls to keep workers from breathing silica dust

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule to curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America’s workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The rule is comprised of two standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime.

OSHA estimates that the rule will save over 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year, once its effects are fully realized. The Final Rule is projected to provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion, annually.

About 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush, or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in general industry operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Responsible employers have been protecting workers from harmful exposure to respirable crystalline silica for years, using widely-available equipment that controls dust with water or a vacuum system.

Key Provisions

  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
  • Requires employers to: use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
  • Provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health.
  • Provides flexibility to help employers — especially small businesses — protect workers from silica exposure.

Compliance Schedule

Both standards contained in the final rule take effect on June 23, 2016., after which industries have one to five years to comply with most requirements, based on the following schedule:

Construction – June 23, 2017, one year after the effective date.

General Industry and Maritime – June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date.

Hydraulic Fracturing – June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date for all provisions except Engineering Controls, which have a compliance date of June 23, 2021.

Background

The U.S. Department of Labor first highlighted the hazards of respirable crystalline silica in the 1930s, after a wave of worker deaths. The department set standards to limit worker exposure in 1971, when OSHA was created. However, the standards are outdated and do not adequately protect workers from silica-related diseases. Furthermore, workers are being exposed to silica in new industries such as stone or artificial stone countertop fabrication and hydraulic fracturing.

A full review of scientific evidence, industry consensus standards, and extensive stakeholder input provide the basis for the final rule, which was proposed in September 2013. The rule-making process allowed OSHA to solicit input in various forms for nearly a full year. The agency held 14 days of public hearings, during which more than 200 stakeholders presented testimony, and accepted over 2,000 comments, amounting to about 34,000 pages of material. In response to this extensive public engagement, OSHA made substantial changes, including enhanced employer flexibility in choosing how to reduce levels of respirable crystalline silica, while maintaining or improving worker protection.

More Information and Assistance

OSHA looks forward to working with employers to ensure that all workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica realize the benefits of this final rule. Please check back for frequent updates on compliance assistance materials and events, and learn about OSHA’s on-site consulting services for small business.

OSHA approved State Plans have six months to adopt standards that are at least as effective as federal OSHA standards. Establishments in states that operate their own safety and health plans should check with their State Plan for the implementation date of the new standards.

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