Silica Exposure- New OSHA Rules

OSHA published its final silica rule in the Federal Register on March 25, 2016. The rule is comprised of two standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime. The final rule is effective on June 23, 2016. Start-up dates for specific provisions are set in 29 CFR 1910.1053 for general industry. This regulation (OSHA 1926.1153) has a compliance date for general construction by June 23, 2017.

OSHA’s Silica resources page


The minimum respiratory protection for a worker who is working with crystalline silica dust, but is not doing abrasive-blasting, may be an N95 NIOSH-approved respirator. However, the exposure to crystalline silica must not exceed the assigned protection factor of the respirator. source

According to OSHA 1910.134(a)(2):
A respirator shall be provided to each employee when such equipment is necessary to protect the health of such employee. The employer shall provide the respirators which are applicable and suitable for the purpose intended. The employer shall be responsible for the establishment and maintenance of a respiratory protection program, which shall include the requirements outlined in paragraph (c) of this section. The program shall cover each employee required by this section to use a respirator.

Respiratory protection program. This paragraph requires the employer to develop and implement a written respiratory protection program with required worksite-specific procedures and elements for required respirator use. The program must be administered by a suitably trained program administrator. In addition, certain program elements may be required for voluntary use to prevent potential hazards associated with the use of the respirator. The Small Entity Compliance Guide contains criteria for the selection of a program administrator and a sample program that meets the requirements of this paragraph.

In any workplace where respirators are necessary to protect the health of the employee or whenever respirators are required by the employer, the employer shall establish and implement a written respiratory protection program with worksite-specific procedures. The program shall be updated as necessary to reflect those changes in workplace conditions that affect respirator use. The employer shall include in the program the following provisions of this section, as applicable: …it continues


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