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OSHA Delays New Silica, Beryllium Rules

April 13, 2017

In the past month, OSHA has announced delays to some of its newer standards, including those limiting exposure to silica dust and beryllium. Read on to learn the current state of these two rules.

Silica dust: Enforcement date delayed to September 23, 2017

Last week, OSHA announced a 90-day delay in the enforcement date for its new silica dust rule that applies to the construction industry. The rule was originally scheduled to be enforceable as of June 23, 2017. The new date is September 23, 2017.

The construction industry delay does not affect the compliance dates for general industry and maritime (June 23, 2018) or hydraulic fracturing (June 23, 2021).

In a statement, OSHA said the delay is because “the agency has determined that additional guidance is necessary due to the unique nature of the requirements in the construction standard.”

However, they also urged the construction industry to stay the course in their compliance preparations:

“OSHA expects employers in the construction industry to continue to take steps either to come into compliance with the new permissible exposure limit, or to implement specific dust controls for certain operations as provided in Table 1 of the standard. Construction employers should also continue to prepare to implement the standard’s other requirements, including exposure assessment, medical surveillance and employee training.”

Reactions to the delay have been mixed, with industry groups generally praising the move and safety groups generally criticizing it.

On April 26, we’re hosting a free webinar to help construction employers understand and comply with OSHA’s silica dust standard. Secure your spot here.

Beryllium: Effective date delayed to May 20, 2017

On March 22, OSHA announced a 60-day delay in the effective date of its new beryllium rule. This represents the second delay of the effective date, which is now scheduled for May 20, 2017.

The agency calls the delay “an opportunity for further review and consideration of the rule, in keeping with a Jan. 20, 2017, White House memorandum, titled “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.”

Note that the compliance dates have not changed. Employers must comply with most elements of the rule starting on March 12, 2018, with additional requirements becoming enforceable over the following two years.

The beryllium rule is also currently being challenged in court by industry groups.

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