Aggregates Manager

November 2013

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Rock OSHA-proposed rule would cut permissible exposure limits to crystalline silica in half; MSHA to follow suit. by K. Brad Oakley OSHA Slashes PEL, COSTS TO SKYROCKET O n Aug. 23, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a proposed rule that will drastically reduce the current Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for crystalline silica, an essential material found in the manufacturing, construction, mining, and oil and gas industries. The most common form of crystalline silica is quartz, which is found in most rock types, including sandstones, granite, and quartzites. The proposed rule will effectively reduce the current PEL by half, and will apply equally in general industry, maritime, and construction operations. Notably, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced in its Spring 2013 Unified Agenda (posted on July 3, 2013) that it will release a similar proposed rule in December 2013. The proposed rule reduces the current PEL to 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air (50µg/m3) averaged over an eight-hour day. This proposed standard is supported by the recommendations of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). It appears that MSHA will propose this same reduced PEL when it releases its proposed rule later this year. Additionally, employers must measure the amount of silica that workers are exposed to Industry experts estimate the annual cost of compliance with OSHA's proposed rule on crystalline silica to be an astounding $658 million. K. Brad Oakley is a member in Jackson Kelly PLLC's Lexington, Ky. office, where he practices with the Occupational Safety and Health Practice Group. He can be reached at 859-288-2835 or via email at 32 if it may be at or above an action level of 25 μg/m3 averaged over an eight-hour day. The proposed rule also includes requirements for exposure assessment, preferred methods for controlling exposure, respiratory protection, medical surveillance, hazard communication, and recordkeeping. OSHA has also indicated that it will require primary reliance on engineering controls and work practices (rather than respiratory controls) to establish compli- AGGREGATES MANAGER November 2013 RockLaw_AGRM1113.indd 32 10/21/13 9:20 AM

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