Employers covered by OSHA’s final rule on occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica have until June 23, 2017, to comply with the new construction standard, except for requirements for laboratory evaluation of exposure samples, which begin on June 23, 2018. 

The 606-page final rule sets the permissible exposure limit (PEL) at 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air (averaged over an eight-hour day), down significantly from 250 micrograms under the existing regulation. Additional provisions in the final rule include requiring contractors to establish and implement a written exposure control plan and offer medical exams.

In April, eight construction industry organizations filed a petition for review of the final rule with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, citing evidence that OSHA’s proposed PEL is technologically and economically infeasible. The petitioning groups, in collaboration with their national organizations, are Mississippi Road Builders’ Association, American Subcontractors Association of Texas, Pelican Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, Louisiana Associated General ContractorsAssociated Masonry Contractors of Texas, Distribution Contractors AssociationMechanical Contractors Associations of Texas and Texas Association of Builders.