According to new enforcement standards released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, workers will have an 8-hour time-weighted average permissible exposure threshold to respirable crystalline silica. As of June 23, 2018, a 30-day provisional period will begin, during which employers can receive compliance assistance. Pennsylvania companies will not be punished for violations if they are making a good faith effort to enforce new standards.
Exposure to breathable crystalline silica can increase the risk of developing many different diseases, including lung cancer, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and silicosis. In addition to the 50 microgram per cubic meter of air exposure limit over an 8-hour period, employers are also required to provide engineering controls and medical examinations. These are designed to limit the risk workers in relevant industries face over the long term.
OSHA estimates that more than 2 million workers will be affected by the new rules regarding crystalline silica exposure. This type of material is one of the key components in the manufacturing of glass. It’s also used in tool and die, steel and foundry industries as well as in the repair and maintenance of refractory brick furnaces. Compliance officers at companies are expected to perform their own testing to ensure they’re within the new standards.
Employees who have developed a workplace illness due to crystalline silica or other harmful materials that are restricted by government regulation may have a right to compensation. Victims are encouraged to contact a lawyer immediately so that their financial and civil rights can be protected. The employer may agree to a settlement, but filing a lawsuit is sometimes required. Compensation can be used for medical bills, recovery costs and alleviation of pain and suffering.