WASHINGTON—The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has established a revised National Emphasis Program to identify and reduce or eliminate worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica.
This represents a revision to the RCS exposure standards—one for construction, one for general industry and maritime—that have been in effect since June 2016, OSHA said in a Feb. 5 press release.
The biggest change in the revised NEP is a lower permissible exposure limit for RCS to 50 micrograms per cubic meter as an eight-hour time-weighted average, the agency said.
The former time-weighted limits were calculated based on silica content, according to the executive summary of the silica NEP. They were approximately 100 micrograms per cubic meter for general industry and 250 micrograms per cubic meter for construction and shipyards, it said.
The executive summary contains two appendices listing affected industries. Appendix B lists 87 industries that are not targeted by the NEP but may be included in silica exposure inspections if local knowledge or data support their inclusion, OSHA said.
"Rubber Product for Manufacturing Mechanical Use" is one of the industries listed in Appendix B. It and the other industries in Appendix B account for less than 2 percent of all workers exposed to RCS, OSHA said.
OSHA State Plan participation in the silica NEP is mandatory, the executive summary said. Area and regional offices are also required to comply, but do not have to develop and implement corresponding Local Emphasis Programs (LEPs) or Regional Emphasis Programs (REPs), it said.
The executive summary may be found at osha.gov.