Last month, the US Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) issued a proposed rule on exposure to silica dust. Silica dust levels are currently regulated, but ready mix producers have not heavily subjected to them. The new proposed rule could change that.
For instance, OSHA contends that the permissible exposure limits (PELs) are outdated. They have proposed a level of 25 PELs which to my understanding is a negligible amount. Feedback from the NRMCA is that you can’t even measure for PELs that low, so essentially any level of PELs detected in a test are going to exceed the limit.
In their projects, OSHA also lists the ready mix concrete industry as the second most at risk industry. NRMCA is has asked but has yet to receive any response on how they have managed their projections. One reason may be the effect on downstream vendors. In OSHA’s proposal, a ready mix producer would be responsible for exposure to silica dust of an outside vendor (example as someone chipping drums).
This proposed rule is in the very early stages of the formal rule making process. NRMCA has yet to fully prepare guidance on the issue but they are on top of it. As new information becomes available, we will be sure to inform our membership.
OSHA has set up a web page for its proposed silica dust rule. More information can be found here.