OSHA releases fact sheet for General Industry Silica

OSHA has released a fact sheet about the General Industry silica standard, which will see enforcement take effect on June 23, 2018. For the past two years, silica has been a constant notice in any OSHA news update, and preventing potentially fatal silica-related diseases remains a top priority for OSHA.

While OSHA’s new silica standards for construction, general industry, and maritime became effective in June 2016, the enforcement and implementation dates were staggered to allow all industries time to adjust safety protocols and pursue additional employee training.

General industry and maritime employers must comply with all requirements of the new OSHA silica standard by June 23, 2018. The maritime and general industry silica standard requires employers to meet the following criteria:

  • Determine the amount of silica that workers are exposed to if it is, or may reasonably be expected to be, at or above the Action Level (AL) of 25 μg/m³ (micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air), averaged over an 8-hour day;
  • Protect workers from respirable crystalline silica exposures above the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 50 μg/m³, averaged over an 8-hour day;
  • Limit access to areas where workers could be exposed above the PEL;
  • Use dust controls and safer work methods to protect workers from silica exposures above the PEL;
  • Provide respirators to workers when dust controls and safer work methods cannot limit exposures to the PEL;
  • Establish and implement a written exposure control plan that identifies tasks that involve exposure and methods used to protect workers;
  • Restrict housekeeping practices that expose workers to silica, such as use of compressed air without a ventilation system to capture the dust and dry sweeping, where effective, safe alternatives are available;
  • Offer medical exams–including chest X-rays and lung function tests–every three (3) years to workers exposed at or above the action level for 30 or more days per year;
  • Train workers on the health effects of silica exposure, workplace tasks that can expose them to silica, and ways to limit exposure; and
  • Keep records of workers’ silica exposure and medical exams.

View the full OSHA General Industry Silica fact sheet here.

There are two exceptions to the enforcement of the general industry silica standard: 1) medical surveillance must be offered to employees who will be exposed at or above the AL for 30 or more days a year starting on June 23, 2020; 2) Hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry must implement dust controls to limit exposures to the new PEL by June 23, 2021.

It is important to note that medical surveillance MUST be offered to employees who will be exposed above the PEL for 30 or more days a year starting on June 23, 2018.

Update your silica safety program and employee training with SCT today! Fill out the contact form below and someone from our safety team will be in touch.



SCT Provides Silica Monitoring at World of Concrete Expo

SCT General Manager Joe Ventura (right) conducts silica monitoring during the World of Concrete Expo in Las Vegas.

This week SCT traveled out west to the 2018 World of Concrete Expo in Las Vegas, NV.

SCT General Manager Joe Ventura conducted silica monitoring and sampling during various demonstrations of concrete saws and drills from Diamond Products Limited. These tools are fitted with HEPA vacuum systems that collect and contain silica dust that is released by the destruction of concrete.

Rick of Diamond Products Limited demonstrates one of the company’s Core Bore units.

Silica exposure has been a hot topic at this year’s World of Concrete, as a U.S. Appeals Court recently rejected all objections brought forth by various industry stakeholders concerning OSHA’s new respirable crystalline silica final rule.

More than 2 million workers are exposed to silica each year in the U.S., putting workers at risk for silicosis, lung cancer, COPD, and kidney disease. The new standard became effective in June 2016, with enforcement beginning in September 2017.

To prepare employers for all of the new silica changes, at SCT we offer newly updated silica training courses: a two-hour awareness training and an eight-hour competent person training. 

On February 27, 2018, we will host our eight-hour competent person training at our Cleveland-area office. Classroom space is limited, so register as soon as possible to reserve your spot.

The course will be led by silica expert and SCT Regional Director Tom Bielema.  Mr. Bielema, the former Area Director of OSHA’s Peroria, IL Office,  will provide an in-depth review of the new respirable crystalline silica standard.

Registration and payment can be completed directly online by clicking here, or you can call us at 1-800-204-1729 for more information.

Not sure which silica class is right for you? Need our experts to perform silica monitoring at your workplace? Fill out the contact form over at our special silica web page and one of our experts will get you squared away.

SCT heads to World of Concrete in Las Vegas

SCT will be at this year’s World of Concrete show in Las Vegas, NV from January 23-26. Visit us at Diamond Products’ booths, where we will be performing silica monitoring as Diamond Products demonstrates their tools.

With the recently updated silica standard in effect,  SCT now offers a 2-hour Silica Awareness training class and an 8-hour Silica Competent Person training class.

SCT General Manager and silica expert Joe Ventura will also be available to meet during the show.

Want to set up a meeting at World of Concrete or schedule a training class for your employees? Fill out the contact form and we will reply as soon as possible.

Appeals Court Rejects Silica Rule Objections

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected objections raised about OSHA’s newly enacted silica standard, which means the new silica rule is here to stay and employers need to be compliant.

On Dec. 22, 2017, the three-judge panel rejected all objections that had been raised by various industry stakeholders, according to EHS Today. 

More than 2 million workers are exposed to silica each year in the U.S., putting workers at risk for silicosis, lung cancer, COPD, and kidney disease. The new standard became effective in June 2016, with enforcement beginning in September 2017.


At SCT, we offer updated training courses to bring you up to speed with all of the new rules and regulations. Representatives from SCT will be at the World of Concrete 2018 trade show with Diamond Products Limited, an industry leader in diamond drilling and cutting tools and equipment. SCT’s safety and industrial health representatives will be answering questions about silica during Diamond Products drilling and cutting demonstration workshops.

What were the objections to the new silica rule?

Industry groups raised five objections to the rule:

  1. whether limiting workers’ silica exposure to the level set by the new rule reduces a significant risk of worker health impairment
  2. whether the rule is technologically feasible for the foundry, hydraulic fracturing and construction industries
  3. whether the rule is economically feasible for the foundry, hydraulic fracturing, and construction industries
  4. whether OSHA violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in enacting the rule
  5. whether substantial evidence supports two ancillary provisions of the rule—one that allows workers who undergo medical examinations to keep the results confidential from their employers and one that prohibits employers from using dry cleaning methods unless doing so is infeasible. We reject all of Industry’s challenges.

Unions asked for review of two parts of the rule:

  1. the requirement that medical surveillance for construction workers be provided only if the employee has to wear a respirator for 30 days for one employer in a one-year period
  2. the absence of medical removal protections (MRPs)

Medical removal protections often require employers to maintain a worker’s normal earnings, rights and benefits. The court rejected the challenge to the 30-day trigger, but concluded that OSHA did not fully explain the absence of MRPs.

Read the court’s full 60-page opinion by clicking here. 

In its conclusion, the court rejected all of the challenges to the silica rule with three exceptions. The court held that OSHA was “arbitrary and capricious in declining to require MRP for some period” when a medical professional:

  • recommends permanent removal of a worker
  • recommends temporary removal to alleviate a worker’s COPD symptoms
  • recommends temporary removal of a worker pending a specialist’s determination

In a news release, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health Co-Executive Director Jessica Martinez supported the court’s decision.

“This is a huge win for millions of workers in construction, foundries, mining, shipbuilding and many other industries. Low-wage workers and those in the informal sector can now be assured of safer working conditions.”

Learn more about what SCT can do to help your business be compliant with OSHA’s new silica rule today! Contact us a 1-800-204-1729.

How Your Beard Impacts Respiratory Protection

Source: NIOSH

As the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health notes, during November many people participate in campaigns to raise money for various causes by growing out their facial hair. But if your job requires a tight fitting respirator, many different facial hair styles are a no-go.

The graphic above (produced by NIOSH) highlights dozens of facial hair styles and if they would interfere with a proper respirator seal. A respirator needs to seal tightly against the face, or else harmful gases, vapors, or particles can enter the lungs.

According to NIOSH, some studies have shown that even a day or two of stubble can reduce the protection that a respirator provides. Facial hair under the seal can cause causes 20 to 1000 times more leakage compared to clean-shaven individuals.

But this graphic should only be used as a guide. A respiratory fit test needs to be performed to ensure that a respirator fits a worker properly. Our team of experts here at SCT conduct hundreds of fit tests each year to help keep our clients safe on the job.

Respiratory protection has received a renewed focus in workplace safety with the updated silica standard in construction going into effect in September 2017. Check out our video below to learn a bit more about silica protection and what to expect from a respiratory fit test.

Need a respiratory fit test for you or your employees? Call us at 1-800-204-1729 or complete the contact form below.


A Day in the Life of an SCT Safety Technician

In our continuing look into our Glass and Safety Staffing Division, our new video gives a detailed look at the everyday responsibilities of our Safety and Health Technicians.

Our techs are on job sites 24/7 during glass furnace demolition/rebuild projects or any other workplaces where it’s important to have a safety expert on hand.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to make sure you never miss a new safety video from us.

Silica Enforcement Is Here

October 23, 2017, marks the end of the 30 days of compliance assistance offered to employers taking good faith efforts to follow OSHA’s new construction silica standard. On October 19, Thomas Galassi, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), issued an Interim Enforcement Guidance for the Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction Standard.

“Effective October 23, 2017, OSHA will fully enforce all appropriate provisions of the Silica in Construction standard. This memorandum will serve as interim enforcement guidance while the standard’s companion compliance directive is proceeding through the review process. It will expire when the compliance directive becomes effective and available to the field,” according to the announcement.

The interim guidance was released to all OSHA regional administrators, as well as to the public. It includes detailed outlines related to inspection guidance and citation guidance. From the documents, areas of high priority include:

  • Following Table 1 parameters
  • Exposure Assessment Options, both Performance and Scheduled Monitoring
  • Methods of Compliance
  • Respiratory Protection
  • Housekeeping Practices
  • Written Exposure Control Plan
  • Medical Surveillance
  • Communication of Hazards

SCT offers updated training classes and program assistance to help transition companies into compliance with the new OSHA standard. Check out our specialized Silica webpage here.

We’ve done numerous videos on the new silica standard and what employers need to do to be in compliance. Check out our latest silica video below!

Want more information? Call us today at 1-800-204-1729 to discuss your silica compliance plans.

SCT VP to Present at Glass Problems Conference

Next month, SCT will be in Columbus, OH, for the 78th Conference on Glass Problems. We have attended this great event in the past, but this year we’re taking on a larger role.

SCT Vice President of Glass Technology and Safety Staff Augmentation Dragan Savic will lead numerous presentations during the conference covering the latest in glass manufacturing safety concerns, including silica and hexavalent chromium.

If you’re going to be at the conference from Nov. 6 through 9, be sure to stop by Booth 313 to meet the rest of our team, including Senior Vice President Jim Joyce and Staff Augmentation Specialist Aaron Zaksheske.

Watch our video below to find the rest of the details you need.

Click here to learn more about our Safety Staffing Services. 

OSHA construction silica enforcement is SATURDAY!

Heads up construction companies, OSHA’s silica enforcement starts on Saturday, September 23, 2017!

SCT’s staff of occupational safety and health experts has the training and skills to help your company transition into this new standard.

During his time working for OSHA, Mr. Bielema helped develop the new silica standard. Mr. Bielema’s most recent position with OSHA was as Area Director for the Peoria, IL, office. The new rule went into effect in June 2016, but the enforcement date was delayed to allow for companies to align their programs and policies with the new standard and conduct necessary updated training.

Mr. Bielema has developed a brand new training course for SCT that will bring you and your employees up to speed on the new regulations. Watch our conversation with Mr. Bielema to find out more details about who is impacted by the new rule, what you need to do to become OSHA compliant, and how to best protect your employees.

Need to update your silica training? Call the safety experts at SCT at 1-800-204-1729, or contact us through our online contact page!

CDC Report Gives Insight into Young Silicosis Deaths

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that most of the young people who died from silicosis worked in jobs where exposure to silica is common. As silicosis is often a disease that affects older people after years of exposure, the CDC wanted to learn more about the disease in younger people.

Between 1999 and 2015, 55 people aged 15 to 44 had pneumoconiosis (lung disease) “due to other dust containing silica” listed on their death certificates as either the underlying or contributing cause of death. Of those, 38 (69%) were assigned pneumoconiosis due to other dust containing silica. Thirty of the 38 people worked in the manufacturing and construction industries, which have high levels of silica exposure.

Seventeen of the 55 people (31%) had pneumoconiosis due to talc dust, which is a specific type of silica. Only 13 of the 17 deaths had occupation data available, and none of those 13 worked jobs that are associated with talc exposure. They also had drug use or overdose as a contributing cause of death, which suggests their deaths were not related to their occupations, according to the CDC.

The CDC concluded that the study shows more research is needed to discern how to best combat silica exposure in the workplace. The organization still suggests following the hierarchy of controls as the best way to face the issue.

Silica dust exposure has been a long-running occupational health concern with a new OSHA rule going into effect in June 2016. However, the effective date has been delayed and is now scheduled for Sept. 23, 2017. About 2.3 million U.S. workers are exposed to silica dust. Check out our infographic below for more important information about the dangers of respirable crystalline silica.

Is your business prepared for the new silica standard? OSHA’s enforcement date is less than two months away! Contact us today online or call 1-800-204-1729 to make sure your employees don’t get left in the dust.