On November 20, 2015, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a compliance schedule to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for implementation of the final rule on Occupation Exposure to Crystalline Silica. The final rule will address appropriate mitigation standards and measures to reduce the risk exposure to crystalline silica for industry workers. Crystalline silica is a basic component of the earth’s crust and is usually used to prop open the fractures induced by hydraulic fracturing. Inhaling silica dust may cause silicosis which is a lung disease and is often fatal.
In August 2013, OSHA announced a proposed rule to provide safety standards to protect workers from health hazards due to crystalline silica exposition. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on September 12, 2013. OSHA proposed “a new permissible exposure limit, calculated as an 8-hour time-weighted average, of 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air (50 mg/m3).” OSHA also declared that the estimated health benefits would be worth billions of dollars annually and would far outweigh the estimated cost of the rule implementation.
According to the compliance schedule, the final rule should be approved by February 2016 and the rulemaking process can be followed at https://www.osha.gov/silica/#2B.
In a related matters, in July 2013, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health released a study entitled “Occupational Exposures to Respirable Crystalline Silica during Hydraulic Fracturing” published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.
Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow