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OSHA's New Silica & Beryllium Standards: What Employers Need to Know?

  • Tuesday, April 17, 2018 / 1:00 PM 2:15 PM

OSHA's struggles to reform its chemical exposure limits continue with the rocky roll-out of its two newest occupational exposure standards - Silica and Beryllium. Both standards are currently under legal challenge, but will likely survive in soem form resulting in a full panoply of new obligations, including significant reductions in the allowable concentrations of airborne exposure to these chemicals, and a comprehensive set of ancillary requirements, such as housekeeping, hygiene, medical surveillance, recordkeeping, workplace signage, training, etc. The silica standard, which is scheduled to become effective for General Industry and Maritime sectors in June 2018, is already in effect for Construction employers.

MSHA, even without its own Silica Standard on the books, has adopted some elements of the hierarchy of controls fundamental to OSHA chemical standards, including the prioritization of engineering over administrative controls. MSHA also conducts exposure monitoring at least annually for respirable silica, and rigorously enforces silica exposure issues.  “Me too” Silica and Beryllium standards for the mining industry may also be in the offing.

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