OSHA's Proposed Rulemaking on Crystalline Silica

On October 25th, OSHA posted a News Release extending the public comment period for their proposed rulemaking on occupational exposure to crystalline silica.  This ubiquitous, naturally occurring mineral has long been regulated through OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard for materials used in business containing 0.1% or more of crystalline silica.  As stated on their website, “the proposed rule will save nearly 700 lives and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis per year, once the full effects of the rule are realized.”

The need for a specific regulation stems from the fact that permissible exposure limits (PELs) for crystalline silica are 40 years old, outdated, inconsistent across industries, and no longer adequately protect workers based on current research.  In the proposed rule, OSHA plans to revise the permissible exposure limit along with proposing a regulatory text for general industry and maritime and another for the construction industry in order to tailor requirements specific to these sectors. 

Click on the link, Crystalline Silica for more information on the proposed rulemaking.

Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Mines has published a Crystalline Silica Primer that discusses its forms, natural occurrence, industrial use, and regulatory activities.