Apparently, many of you received the attached letter from OSHA via email (with return receipt) or the US Postal Service. It may not have been addressed to the safety management team though. The letter is the OSHA attempt to notify you that the National Enforcement Program for Respirable Crystalline Silica will be enforceable starting May 4, 2020.
Two issues of note:
- The OSHA Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) regulations are enforceable now. It has been in effect September 23, 2017 for construction and June 23, 2018 for all other industries. OSHA can conduct investigations and cite employers during programmed inspections; when a silica hazard is observed; or if responding to an employee complaint. The National Enforcement Program for Respirable Crystalline Silica is simply another means of legal entry by OSHA if your industry would expose workers to respirable crystalline silica and that means of entry would begin May 4, 2020.
- The letter references the OSHA consultation program that helps employers identify hazardous conditions (including RCS). This program is administered by USF Safety Florida, not by OSHA. I strongly advise you not to contact OSHA for a worksite consultation. OSHA is obligated to cite the employer if a hazard is observed and the citation will come with a monetary penalty. USF SafetyFlorida is only obligated to notify OSHA of an employer hazard if the employer refuses to fix the hazard. Unfortunately, the best of my knowledge is far behind in scheduling new reviews. There are other advantages of working with the USF SafetyFlorida team, you should review their website for further information.
The OSHA regulations on Respirable Crystalline Silica is not an easy regulation to comply with. Our observations since this was enacted is that less than 15% of the construction site have complied with 29CFR1926.1153. If you are drilling, cutting, grinding or mixing concrete then you are impacted by Table 1 of that regulation in regards to wearing respirators and the use of tools equipped with the appropriate vacuum or water protection. This standard also mandates training and possibly medical evaluations.
The Ft Lauderdale OSHA Area Office has been lax in enforcing this standard since the enactment in 2017. I suspect that our area will be experiencing new enforcement activity shortly.
Please contact me if you have any questions.