ASA decries proposed OSHA rule on crystalline silica

The American Subcontractors Association criticized a rule proposed by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulating the use of crystalline silica on construction projects, as “confusing and burdensome without meeting the shared goal of improved worker safety and health.”

Released by OSHA on Aug. 23, the proposed rule “seeks to lower worker exposure to crystalline silica,” a natural occurring component of soil, sand, granite and other minerals. Many common construction operations in dozens of specialty trade activities involve silica, including those that cut, grind, crush or drill materials that contain silica, such as concrete, masonry, tile or rock, according to the ASA.

“OSHA’s proposed rule runs 577 pages and details the steps that tens of thousands of specialty trade contractors will have to follow in order to be in compliance,” ASA chief advocacy officer E. Colette Nelson said in a statement.

Under OSHA’s proposed rule, a construction employer would have to measure and keep records of the amount of respirable crystalline silica that its workers are exposed to if it might be at or above 25 μg/m3 (micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air), averaged over an eight-hour day. An employer would have to protect its workers if the exposure is above a permissive exposure level (PEL) of 50 μg/m3, averaged over an eight-hour day, according to the ASA.

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