OSHA is currently accepting comments on a proposed rule that would significantly tighten the exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica across all industry sectors to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air on a time-weighted average. If adopted, that change would reduce the exposure limit by roughly half for general industry and maritime, and by an even greater magnitude in various construction activities. OSHA also wants to issue regulations on exposure monitoring, medical surveillance and recordkeeping among the mandates that it argues would greatly reduce silicosis and other risks
The proposed rule could have a significant impact on industry, particularly the construction industry. On November 21, a group of Republican senators urged OSHA to extend the comment period for the proposed rule and to convene a panel to assess the rule’s impact on small employers.