A new Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Rule, which was to begin being enforced on June 23, 2016, has been postponed until September 23, 2017.
This new rule significantly reduces the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for crystalline silica. The previous PEL was 250 micrograms per cubic meter for the construction industry and is now being lowered to 50 micrograms per cubic meter. The new rule also establishes an Action Level (AL) of 25 micrograms per cubic meter, which may require additional personnel monitoring and medical surveillance.
This new rule became effective June 23, 2016, but employers in the construction industry have until September 23, 2017 to get into compliance. This could potentially affect a lot of employees and employers in a variety of industries that saw, sand, or grind concrete and mortar, or do abrasive blasting. A negative exposure assessment would be necessary to show that specific work activities where crystalline silica dusts are generated do not exceed the PEL or AL.