The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) received OSHA’s proposed rule on occupational exposure to crystalline silica for review on February 14. The most recent federal regulatory agenda indicates that OSHA plans to publish the proposal in April. OMB review is required before any rule can be published. A required Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) review for the rulemaking was completed in 2003.
The permissible exposure limit (PEL) that OSHA is planning to propose is not known at this time. Near the end of 2009 the Agency had been considering two possible PELs - eight-hour time-weighted average exposures of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3 ) and 100 µg/m3.
The rule will likely include a task-based compliance regimen that requires specific engineering controls and respiratory protection to be provided for tasks that generate significant risk of exposure to silica dust. Employers who meet those control requirements would be exempted from exposure monitoring requirements, however.
SOURCE: Dee Woodhull, CIH, consultant with Mercer/ORC, a global environmental health and safety consultancy based in Washington, DC.