OSHA has revised its National Emphasis Program (NEP) to identify and reduce or eliminate worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) in general industry, maritime and construction. The NEP targets specific industries expected to have the highest numbers of workers exposed to silica, and focuses on enforcement of the general industry and maritime standard (29 CFR 1910.1053), which took effect June 23, 2018, and the construction standard (29 CFR 1926.1153), which took effect Sept. 23, 2017.
The agency will provide stakeholders with compliance assistance for 90 days before it begins programmed inspections under the directive. Employers should note several key changes in this version of the NEP:
- Revised application to the lower permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) as an 8-hour time-weighted average in general industry, maritime and construction.
- Updated list of target industries that area offices will use to develop randomized lists of employers in their local jurisdictions for targeted inspections.
- Compliance officers will refer to current enforcement guidance for RCS inspection procedures.
- All OSHA regional and area offices must comply with this NEP, but they are not required to develop corresponding regional or local emphasis programs.
- State-plan states must participate because of the nationwide exposures to silica.
For more information on the health effects from silica exposure, and how employers can protect workers, visit OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics webpage on Crystalline Silica.