Silica Enforcement: OSHA Rules Arrive for General Industry, Maritime

As of June 23, 2018, OSHA’s silica enforcement has arrived for general industry and maritime workplaces.

The new standard creates an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) permissible exposure limit of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, as well as an action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Other rules include keeping silica-related records and offering medical surveillance to employees.

In the first 30 days of enforcement, OSHA will help employees that are “making good faith efforts” to comply with the new silica standard. Any silica citations issued during this 30-day period will be reviewed by the National Office before the citations are issued.

For more insight into how OSHA will enforce the silica standard during this interim period, read the administration’s silica enforcement guidance memo that was sent to all OSHA Regional Administrators.

The updated silica final rule was originally published back on March 25, 2016, creating two new standards: one for construction and one for general industry/maritime. Most of the construction standard became enforceable on September 23, 2017.

Dangers of Silica

Silica is a common mineral found on Earth, but when it becomes small enough to enter our lungs, it becomes a major health risk for humans.

Many common work activities — including cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling and crushing stone, rock concrete, brick and mortar — create respirable crystalline silica, which are particles that are at least 100 times smaller than ordinary sand. About 2.3 million workers are exposed to silica dust in the U.S. 

Workers who inhale silica are at an increased risk of potentially fatal diseases such as:

  • Silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death
  • Lung cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Kidney disease

SCT is your Silica Solution

The workplace safety experts at SCT can solve all of your silica hazards and help you reach OSHA compliance. We offer both a 2-hour awareness and 8-hour competent person training course. SCT is your One Stop Shop for all things silica. We can train your employees, create a customized written safety plan, deliver high-quality personal protective equipment, and everything in between.

Call us today at 1-800-204-1729 or complete the contact form below.








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OSHA outlines General Industry Silica Enforcement

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has outlined how it will conduct silica enforcement for the General Industry and Maritime standards in a memorandum from Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Galen Blanton.

The launch of silica enforcement for General Industry and Maritime standards takes a similar path as the start of enforcement for the Construction standard.

In the memorandum to OSHA’s Regional Administrators, Blanton wrote, “During the first 30 days of enforcement, OSHA will assist employers that are making good faith efforts to meet the new standard’s requirements. If upon inspection, it appears an employer is not making any efforts to comply, compliance officers should conduct air monitoring in accordance with Agency procedures, and consider citations for non-compliance with any applicable sections of the new standard.”

The new provisions for Respirable Crystalline Silica standard for General Industry and Maritime, 29 CFR § 1910.1053, are enforceable on June 23, 2018. Like the Construction standard, 29 CFR § 1926.1153, the standard instituted a new 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, and an action level (AL) of 25 µg/m3.

Watch our “Ask The Experts” video on silica!

According to Blanton’s memorandum, “Any proposed citations related to inspections conducted in this 30-day time period will require National office review prior to issuance.”

Silica enforcement has been one of the top questions SCT’s safety experts have received since the new standards were approved back in 2016. SCT has developed a 2-hour refresher training course, and an 8-hour competent person training course on the new silica standards.

The time for compliance is now!

Contact the safety experts at SCT at 1-800-204-1729 or by filling out the contact form below!







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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.








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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.

LET SCT ANSWER YOUR SILICA QUESTIONS!

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.








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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.