OSHA has released a Small Entity Compliance Guide for General Industry and Maritime to help small business employers comply with the agency's Final Rule to Protect Workers from Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica.

The final rule is written as two standards, one for construction and one for general industry and maritime.

The guide describes the steps that employers are required to take to protect employees in general industry and maritime from the hazards associated with silica exposure.

These requirements include:

  • Reducing the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour shift
  • Requiring employers to use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) and work practices to limit worker exposure; provide respiratory protection when controls are not able to limit exposures to the permissible level; limit access to high exposure areas; train workers; and provide medical exams to highly exposed workers
  • Staggering compliance dates to ensure employers have sufficient time to meet the requirements, e.g., extra time for the hydraulic fracturing industry to install new engineering controls and for all general industry employers to offer medical surveillance to employees exposed between the PEL and 50 micrograms per cubic meter and the action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

Enforcement of the final rule in general industry and maritime is scheduled to begin June 23, 2018.