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OSHA Submits Request for Information Related to Silica Rule to OIRA for Review

On July 29, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) submitted a request for information (RFI) to inform revisions to its silica rule’s list of acceptable practices—also known as “Table 1”—to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review. Submitting a proposed rule to OIRA is typically the final step before it is published in the Federal Register for public comment. As you know, Table 1 applies specifically to construction and lists 18 silica-generating tasks and provides specific engineering controls and respirator requirements to reduce or eliminate a worker’s exposure to silica while cutting, drilling, and polishing bricks, concrete, and stone.

The original rule, issued in 2017, sets a permissible exposure limit (PEL) for airborne crystalline silica of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Under this RFI, OSHA is requesting information on the effectiveness of control measures that are not currently included for tasks and tools listed in Table 1, as well as information on the effectiveness of current dust control methods in limiting worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Among the proposals OSHA is rumored to be exploring through this request for information are attaching vacuums to handheld tools. This idea was contemplated during the drafting of the original silica rule but was ultimately left out. OSHA intends to evaluate information submitted as part of this RFI to determine if revisions to Table 1 are warranted. SWACCA will provide more information when the request for information is published.