Effective Feb. 5, 2020, in a National Emphasis Program (NEP) directive, OSHA changed the Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) standard permissible exposure limits (PEL) for all industries. The new PEL is 50 micrograms per cubic meter as an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA). The former PELs were approximately 100 micrograms per cubic meter for general industry and 250 micrograms per cubic meter for construction and shipyards.

This means that workers mixing dry mortar, using saws to cut concrete, concrete blocks, concrete siding, bricks, tile, stone, drilling concrete, jack hammering concrete, grinding concrete, etc. and their employers, must take steps to prevent employees from breathing silica dust.

The NEP Directive, Appendix A,  contains an updated list of target industries.

There is a 3-month outreach that OSHA Area offices may send letters, news releases and provide information to all those interested at no cost. They may conduct seminars and offer no-cost on-site consultation services to small businesses.

For more information see the NEP Directive or OSHA’s Small Entity Compliance Guide.