OSHA Provides Resources to Support Employer Compliance with Updated Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction

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Construction outreach materials highlighted by the OSHA Training Institute Education Center at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District as a service to employers

Cari Elofson, Assistant Director, OSHA Programs, OSHA Training Institute Education Center

Cari Elofson, Assistant Director, OSHA Programs, OSHA Training Institute Education Center

It is vitally important that employers take advantage of OSHA’s written guidelines in order to fully understand their responsibility to limit worker exposure to these harmful particles.

The OSHA Training Institute Education Center at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District, the only OSHA authorized OTI Education Center headquartered in Northern California, is drawing attention to resources available from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to support employer compliance with the recently updated Respirable Crystalline Silica standard for construction. OSHA is providing extensive outreach materials, including a compliance guide and detailed fact sheets, to help employers in the construction industry protect their workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

“When construction workers cut, grind, drill or crush materials containing crystalline silica, a common mineral found in sand, stone, concrete, brick and mortar, very small 'respirable' particles can penetrate into workers’ lungs and cause serious respiratory diseases,” says Cari Elofson, Assistant Director of the OSHA Training Institute Education Center at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District. “It is vitally important that employers take advantage of OSHA’s written guidelines in order to fully understand their responsibility to limit worker exposure to these harmful particles.”

OSHA's Respirable Crystalline Silica standard for construction requires employers to take very specific steps to limit worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Employers can either use the control methods laid out in Table 1 of the construction standard, or they can measure workers' exposure to silica and independently decide which dust controls work best to limit exposures to the permissible exposure limit (PEL) in their workplaces. 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 where feasible 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 work operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure.
  •     Keep records of exposure measurements, objective data and medical exams.

Compliance requirements for all aspects of the Respirable Crystalline Silica standard for construction have been in effect since October, 2017, except requirements for laboratory evaluation of exposure samples, which begin in June, 2018. Click here for access to OSHA’s compliance guide, fact sheets outlining key aspects of the crystalline silica rule and other important information and resources.

About the OSHA Training Institute Education Center

The OSHA Training Institute Education Center at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District offers high quality Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) standards-based training for the construction, maritime and general industry in Dublin, California, conveniently located in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as locations throughout California, Nevada and Hawaii. Programs offered include OSHA safety standards, Outreach Trainer courses, Cal/OSHA standards and customized on-site safety training. For more information, including a complete course schedule, visit the OSHA Training Institute Education Center website, email otc@clpccd.org or call (866) 936-OSHA (6742).

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