OSHA Respirable Crystalline Silica Rule Coming Fast

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) said that that many of its standards are nearing final rule status, including the Respirable Crystalline Silica rule, but may have delayed deadlines.

The agency still says that it expects to release the Respirable Crystalline Silica standard final rule in February 2016. The early date reflects that silica is OSHA’s top regulatory priority.

“The regulatory agenda lists it as February,” David Michaels, the agency’s assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, said at a National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health meeting recently held in Washington, D.C. “I think that’s optimistic, but we will complete that sometime in 2016.”

The agency’s proposed rule, which was published in September 2013, would set a new permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air calculated as an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA), down from about 100 micrograms for general industry and 250 micrograms for construction and shipyards.

OSHA received more than 1,700 comments on the proposed rule and heard testimony from more than 200 stakeholders during public hearings on the proposal. The agency is currently reviewing and considering the evidence in the rulemaking record.

The OSHA regulation is widely considered to be the model for subsequent MSHA legislation.

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