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New OSHA Rules for Silica

Stricter guidelines and severe fines involved.

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The Intl. Sign Assn. (ISA; Alexandria, VA) reported that The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) new silica standard for construction took effect on Sept. 23.

Sign contractors which engage in activities that create silica dust — that is “respirable crystalline silica”— such as by cutting, grinding or blasting materials like concrete, stone and brick, must meet a stricter standard for how much of that dust workers inhale. The same goes for employers of tradespeople working around such activities. The new standard also specifies what services employers must make available to workers who are exposed to high levels of silica dust and the training required of those who are at risk.

This new standard has been under development for almost 20 years and supersedes OSHA s first silica standard, issued in 1971. The old standard required that silica dust particles, which are 100 times smaller than sand granules, be limited to 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air over an average of eight hours — the hours of a typical work shift. The new standard reduces that to 50 micrograms over the same time period.

Those who do not comply with the new standard will be subject to a maximum fine of $12,675 for a serious or other-than-serious violation; $12,675 per day past the abatement date for a failure-to-abate violation; and $126,749 for a repeated or willful violation.

For more information visit signs.org/silica.

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