OSHA Releases NEP on Respirable Crystalline Silica

On February 4, 2020 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released an updated National Emphasis Program (NEP) focused on silica exposure. Since the updated respirable crystalline silica standard became effective in June of 2016, OSHA has continued to focus on this issue across various industries. The updated NEP will further allocate resources to addressing this issue – meaning your facility is at increased risk for an OSHA inspection.

Here’s what you need to know:

What is the goal of the NEP?

According to OSHA, the goal of the new NEP is to “significantly reduce or eliminate worker exposures to [respirable crystalline silica] and, therefore, control the health hazards associated with such exposures.” To accomplish this goal, OSHA will increase targeted inspections, outreach to employers and provide compliance assistance.

Which industries are included?

OSHA has provided a list of 30 general industry/maritime industries and 4 construction industries that will be targeted under this NEP. Among these 34 industries are electrical transmission & distribution, concrete manufacturing, iron foundries, rail transportation and more.

For the full list of targeted industries, see Appendix A in this directive.  

What will OSHA Inspectors be looking for?

In essence, inspectors are there to ensure your facility is operating in accordance with OSHA’s standard on respirable crystalline silica. If you are not familiar with this standard, this page provides a succinct over. On this page, you’ll also find a webinar with an in-depth overview of this standard and what steps you need to take to comply.

When will inspections begin?

The initial press release states “OSHA will conduct 90 days of compliance assistance for stakeholders prior to beginning programmed inspections for the NEP.” This means inspections under this NEP will start in the beginning of May 2020.

The time to prepare is now – before inspections begin. Here are some resources to get you started:

Our team will continue to provide additional information and resources as more information becomes available for the NEP on respirable crystalline silica. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions.

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