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OSHA Extends Comment Period for Proposed Silica Rule

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Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) granted a 47-day extension for the comment period deadline for the recently proposed rule to further regulate respirable crystalline silica. While NRMCA is pleased with the needed extension, it is roughly half of the 90 days extension asked for by NRMCA and multiple other industries and organizations. The new comment period deadline is January 27, 2014. As well, the public hearing on the issue to be held in Washington, DC, has been moved to March 18, 2014. To attend the public hearing "notices of intention to appear" must be submitted to OSHA by Thursday, December 12.

Background: On September 12, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published in the Federal Register a proposal to overhaul the current allowable exposure limits for "respirable" crystalline silica. OSHA’s proposed rule has two separate sections, one for general industry and maritime (which the ready mixed concrete industry falls under) and another for the construction industry. In the ready mixed concrete industry, respirable crystalline silica is typically found from chipping out concrete mixer drums or possibly while concrete mixer truck drivers are on an active construction site. OSHA estimates that the ready mixed concrete industry currently has 43,920 workers currently exposed to respirable crystalline silica, 32,110 of which are exposed to levels above the new proposed permissible exposure limit (PEL).

Although NRMCA is still analyzing the proposed rule, these are the main elements:
• Reducing the PEL from 100 μg/m3, averaged over an 8-hour day, down to just 50 μg/m3, averaged over an 8-hour day;
• Required measuring of silica that workers can be exposed to if it is at or above 25 μg/m3, averaged over an 8-hour day;
• Limiting worker access to areas where the PEL is above 50 μg/m3;
• Required dust controls to reduce worker exposure to limits above the new PEL;
• Employers will be required to provide respirators to workers when dust controls cannot reduce worker exposure to limits above the new PEL;
• Medical exams every three years for workers who are exposed to limits for 30 or more days a year above the new PEL;
• New worker training; and
• New recordkeeping requirements.

Click here to view the proposed rule, factsheets, frequently asked questions (FAQs) and more. For more information, contact NRMCA's Gary Mullings at or Kevin Walgenbach at

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