The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a pre-publication copy of its final rule, Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica. The rule will be published in the March 25, 2016, Federal Register and will be effective in 90 days.

The final rule establishes a permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica of 50 micrograms as an eight-hour time-weighted average that was opposed by industry as unnecessary, not feasible, and not supported by scientific evidence. The rule also includes provisions for exposure assessment, respiratory protection, medical surveillance, hazard communication, and recordkeeping.

The final rule is issued as two separate standards, one for general industry and maritime and one for construction. We are reviewing the rule and will work with our clients to respond. We welcome the participation of our clients in the response effort and a potential challenge to the rule.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has indicated it will revise the PEL for mining following issuance of OSHA’s final rule, and silica remains on MSHA’s semi-annual regulatory agenda. However, MSHA may not have sufficient time to complete a rulemaking prior to a new administration taking office.