Federal and State OSHA Standards on Respirable Crystalline Silica

November 20, 2017

The state of Minnesota has adopted Federal OSHA standards for respirable crystalline silica, walking-working surfaces and fall protection. MNOSHA has begun enforcement of the standards as it applies to the industry. MNOSHA Fall protection rule became effective on September 19, 2017.

Key provisions of the Respirable Crystalline Silica rule:

  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour shift;
  • Requires employers to:
    • Use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the OSHA set PEL,
    • Provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure>
    • Limit worker access to high exposure areas
    • Develop a written exposure control plan
    • Offer medical exams to highly exposed workers
    • Train workers about silica risks and how to limit exposures.
  • Provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health
  • Provides flexibility to help employers, especially small businesses, protect workers from silica exposure.

The federal OSHA construction standard became effective Sept. 23, 2017; the MNOSHA Compliance enforcement date was also Sept. 23, 2017. Federal OSHA enforcement for the general industry standard is scheduled to begin June 23, 2018.