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OSHA Inspectors to Assess "Good-Faith Efforts" in Early Days of Silica Enforcement

09/22/2017

In a memo issued Sept. 20, 2017, Thomas Galassi, acting deputy assistant secretary of labor, informed regional administrators that although the Respirable Crystalline Silica construction standard (29 CFR 1926.1153), becomes enforceable on Sept. 23, 2017, compliance officers are, for the first 30 days of enforcement, to evaluate good-faith efforts taken by employers in their attempts to meet the new construction silica standard.

"OSHA will render compliance assistance and outreach to assure that covered employers are fully and properly complying with its requirements. Given the novelty of the Table 1 approach, OSHA will pay particular attention to assisting employers in fully and properly implementing the controls in the table. OSHA will assist employers who are making good faith efforts to meet the new requirements to assure understanding and compliance," Galassi says.

The memo also notes that if inspection indicates that an employer is not making any efforts to comply, OSHA's inspection will not only include collection of exposure air monitoring performed in accordance with agency procedures, but those employers may also be considered for citation. "Any proposed citations related to inspections conducted in this time period will require national office review," Galassi states.

The standard establishes a new 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, an action level (AL) of 25 µg/m3 and several ancillary requirements.

In April, OSHA delayed the standard's enforcement from June 23, 2017 to Sept. 23, 2017. "[This] announcement essentially extends that enforcement delay," says Jordan Barab, who was deputy assistant secretary of labor at OSHA from 2009 to 2017. Despite the delay in enforcement, the standard's requirements have been in effect since June 23 and many construction employers are complying with the mandates. 

 

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