The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently established a revised 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 new silica standards, one for general industry and one for maritime and construction.
Changes to the program include:
- 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 (which includes oil and gas), as listed in the appendix of the NEP; from this list, area offices will develop randomized establishment lists of employers in their local jurisdictions for targeted inspections;
- Compliance safety and health 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 and implement corresponding regional or local emphasis programs; and
- State Plans must participate because of the nationwide exposures to silica.
For more information, please visit the OSHA website.