On June 23, OSHA released a final rule to protect workers from respirable silica. Construction employers must comply with all requirements of the standard by June 23, 2017. The standard will lower the action limit to .025mg/m3 and the permissible exposure limit (PEL) to .050mg/m3.
Fermilab and its subcontractors do not fall under OSHA but are held by contract to 10 CFR 851: Worker Safety and Health Program. CFR 851 states that all contractors follow the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents and Biological Exposure Indices when the exposure limit is lower than the PELs in OSHA. The ACGIH TLV for respirable silica that Fermilab must meet is .025mg/m3, which is half the new OSHA PEL.
As a result of the Office of Enterprise Assessment review of the construction safety program here at Fermilab last fall, it was identified that additional monitoring was needed to assure that the Lab’s workplace exposures were below ACGIH occupational limits. In April, guidance on silica related tasks and controls necessary was presented to Task Mangers, Construction Coordinators and Division Safety Officers. Since then, ESH&Q has been monitoring and evaluating concrete work on our construction sites and we have determined that additional control methods are required. This will also apply to all Lab workers completing similar work at Fermilab.
Moving forward, all work involving concrete will require review by Safety and Health and the use of tight fitting air purifying respirators. This is in addition to all available engineering controls. The use of a tight fitting respirator requires training, medical clearance and fit testing. This requirement for respirator use will be in effect until the Industrial Hygiene Group can determine what activities are below the ACGIH TLV.
If you have any questions please contact Rob Bushek x2399 or Rich Ruthe x5424.