The construction industry
must comply with OSHA’s final ruling on respirable crystalline silica by June
23, a ruling that AGC of America and its chapters firmly oppose.
The ruling states
companies must comply with all provisions, except for the requirements for
methods of sample analysis. They are as follows:
the permissible exposure limit (PEL) by 80% to 50 micrograms per cubic
meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift
an action level (AL) of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air
affected employers to use engineering controls to limit exposures
respiratory protection when engineering controls are ineffective
affected employers to develop written exposure control plans
affected employers to train affected workers on the risks associated with
silica and how they can limit their exposure
affected employers to provide medical exams to highly-exposed workers
AGC of America, as well as
multiple other industry groups, believe the rule is unnecessary and unfeasible,
both technologically and economically. For example, air sampling results
furnished by commercial laboratories have been inconsistent.
Our national organization
has filed challenges in court. Understanding that a legal challenge is a
lengthy process that could yield an unfavorable result, we also continue to
push for legislation in Congress in hopes the current administration will put
workable silica measures in place that would be far more effective in improving
workplace health and safety. At the state level, we have formed an advisory coalition
comprised of AGC members to work with Cal/OSHA as it adopts OSHA’s ruling.
Coalition partners sent a letter to the Cal/OSHA Advisory Board on Jan. 17
recommending the board keeps the inclusion of vacuums and proposing
clarification of the exceptions.
The following is a list of
options that the Cal/OSHA Standards Board is considering:
rule-making efforts: Refer employers to federal OSHA’s Small Entity
Compliance Guide for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for
Construction so they can more easily comply with the standard. The
guide discusses exceptions to the regulation and how to comply with its
requirements. The Board could request that the Division reviews the
compliance guide and makes amendments as necessary to ensure that it addresses
the specific needs of California employers. Or,
forward with the rule-making effort, placing as much information about
vacuum controls and exceptions in the regulations as possible (similar to
initial coalition proposal): Provide employers with specific
information about minor tasks that are not expected to overexpose
employees. Detailed requirements for vacuum controls and place the
information into Table 1 so that employers do not need to interpret
subsection (d) (where information on alternative exposure controls like
vacuum controls currently exists). No further advisory committee
would be convened. Board staff would prepare the amendments based
upon the minutes of the Dec. 12, 2016, advisory meeting, subsequent
subcommittee comments, and its own professional judgement.
the subcommittee discussion to specifically address the controls and
respirator requirements necessary for employees to safely cut tiles on
steep roofs: Although the requirements can be distilled from the
recently-adopted standard, more specific information could be placed into
Table 1 to assist roofing contractors and employees with compliance.
A decision on the matter
is expected by the end of this week.
For questions, please contact Dave Jones at