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OSHA Revises Silica Enforcement Program

Stephanie Salmon

AFS continues to monitor silica developments for association members. In February, the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a revised Crystalline Silica National Emphasis Program (NEP) aimed at identifying and reducing or eliminating worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica in general industry, maritime and construction.  According to OSHA, the rate of non-compliance with silica rule means exposure to silica continues to be a serious risk.

What changes were made to the NEP?

• Revised application to the lower permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) as an 8-hour time-weighted average in general industry, maritime,
and construction set in 2016.

• Updated list of target industries, as listed in the appendix of the NEP; from this list, area offices will
develop randomized establishment lists of employers in their local jurisdictions for targeted inspections.

• Compliance safety and health officers will refer to current enforcement guidance for silica inspection

• All OSHA regional and area offices must comply with this NEP, but they are not required to develop
and implement corresponding regional or local emphasis programs.

• State Plans must participate because of the nationwide exposures to silica.

OSHA is implementing a 90-day period of compliance assistance before targeted inspections begin.
Moving forward, 2% of inspections each year will target silica exposure for all these sectors.

Silica remains a top priority for AFS. The association will host several sessions on OSHA-related enforcement issues, including silica, during the April Metalcasting Congress 2020 in Cleveland.
The link to the silica NEP is www.osha.gov/enforcement/directives/cpl-03-00-023.