OSHA's final ruling on crystalline silica is expected to cost employers nearly $1 billion to implement, with many groups claiming that number could be even higher. Due to the short amount of time that employers have to implement the rule, they should reviews the standard's requirements and begin to develop a plan of action.
The standards, "set a PEL of 50 µg/m3 (from the previous PEL of approximately 250 µg/m3) measured as an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA). If workers are exposed to crystalline silica above the new PEL, all construction employers must implement engineering controls by using local exhaust ventilation (e.g., vacuums) or a water delivery system." To meet the new standards, employers should consider taking many steps including:
- Review any existing equipment to determine whether it can be retrofitted with local exhaust ventilation (e.g., vacuums), a water delivery system or some other control, or whether new equipment will need to be found and purchased. Take an accounting of both.
- Research vendors and the costs to retrofit or purchase new equipment. Determine the overall costs and unit price for making upgrades or purchasing new equipment and develop a purchasing plan that spreads costs over the next 13 months.
- Coordinate with an occupational health medical partner (or find one if a partner is not already in place) to assist in meeting the medical examination requirements. They can help understand the medical requirements and come up with a program to ensure that the requirements are completed in the most cost effective manner possible.