Respirable Crystalline Silica in the Workplace: New Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Standards [January 16, 2018]   [open pdf - 804KB]

"On March 25, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor (DOL) published new standards regulating exposure to crystalline silica in the workplace. Under the new standards, the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for crystalline silica is to be reduced to 50 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter of air). Employers are to be required to monitor crystalline silica exposure if workplace levels may exceed 25 μg/m3 for at least 30 days in a year and provide medical monitoring to employees in those workplaces. In the case of construction workers, medical monitoring is required only if the new standards require workers to wear respirators for at least 30 days in a year. Construction industry employers are exempt from the PEL and exposure monitoring requirements if they comply with the engineering controls and work practices specified in the new standards. The new standards are scheduled to be phased in over the next five years, beginning June 23, 2017, with different implementation dates for construction, general industry, and hydraulic fracturing (fracking). OSHA projects that the new crystalline silica standards will prevent 642 deaths per year, costing employers just over $1 billion annually. The net monetary benefits of the new standards are projected to be $7.6 billion annually based on reduced mortality and morbidity related to exposure to crystalline silica."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R44476
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