Silica Citations Ramp up 6 Months After Rule


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is six months into its enforcement of its new silica rule. So far, more than 100 companies have been cited.

Bloomberg BNA reported on OSHA’s records through April 17 and found that since Oct. 23, the agency issued 116 alleged silica violations.

The Findings

The data showed that the citations occurred when OSHA was already citing the company for other hazards on the jobsite, such as fall protection violations. The inspections for those infringements then turned into officials citing for the silica rule as well.

Of the 116 violations, the records showed that the most common violation (35) was that the employers weren’t measuring silica levels at all.

Other citations included variations of employers incorrectly following Table 1 procedures. (Table 1 refers to the “Specified Exposure Control Methods When Working With Materials Containing Silica” chart, which was released with the guidelines for the new rule.)

The Table 1 guide, as well as the 101-page booklet that is intended to help contractors follow the new rule, is a point of contention as many organizations and companies maintain that the guides are unclear. (The National Association of Home Builders in Washington has submitted formal compliance questions.)

About 80 percent of the violations were classified as serious; the rest were other-than-serious. The highest silica-related fine was $9,239, more than $3,000 short of the maximum penalty of $12,934.

The Rule Change

The Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction Standard amended silica exposure regulations for the first time since 1971, reducing the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica by 80 percent to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour shift.

The final rule is written as two standards: one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. The construction standard took effect in September, with a 30-day grace period for enforcement, and the maritime standard will take effect June 23.

Mandatory provisions for employers also include:

  • Using engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) and implementing work practices to limit worker exposure;
  • Providing respiratory protection when controls are not able to limit exposures to the permissible level;
  • Limiting access to high-exposure areas;
  • Training workers; and
  • Providing medical exams to highly exposed workers.

Tagged categories: Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; North America; OSHA; OSHA; Safety; Silica; Silica rule

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.