UPDATE | Respirable Crystalline Silica

by Tina Jaycox

On April 6, 2017, OSHA announced that they will delay the enforcement of the Crystalline Silica standard that applies to the construction industry. The standard was scheduled to begin June 23, 2017, but enforcement will now begin Sept. 23, 2017. Visit OSHA’s website to read the full news release issued by OSHA on April 6, 2017.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule to limit employee exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The rule is comprised of two standards, one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. The rule is expected to impact approximately two million construction workers who drill, cut, crush, or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete, block, and stone. Exposure to respirable crystalline silica can cause silicosis, lung cancer, other respiratory diseases, and kidney disease. The construction industry has until June 23, 2017 to become compliant with the requirements while those under General Industry and Maritime have until June 23, 2018.

Let’s take a look at the key provisions of the rule:

  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
  • Requires employers to use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL, provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure, limit worker access to high exposure areas, develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
  • Provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health.
  • Provides flexibility to help employers — especially small businesses — protect workers from silica exposure.

Hillmann Consulting, LLC can perform an exposure assessment for your company to see whether or not you are in compliance with the new rule. Our team will thoroughly review your work methods, perform personal air monitoring, and suggest what engineering controls are necessary. We can create or advise in the creation of the required programs and keep your employees safe. || Your Property. Our Priority.

Contact us at (908) 688-7800 for more information.