Last week, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board approved an emergency temporary standard regarding respirable crystalline silica (RCS). The standard will take effect December 29, 2023.
The emergency temporary standard (ETS)comes after the California Department of Public Health issued an alert in November of worker deaths due to silicosis, which is caused by silica dust entering the lungs.
The ETS includes revisions intended to protect workers engaged in high-exposure tasks such as cutting, grinding, and polishing artificial stone and natural stone containing more than 10% crystalline silica.
The ETS includes additional exposure control precautions employers should undertake such as suppression of dust by ensuring water coverage, protecting workers from airborne exposure during housekeeping, and using warning signage.
The ETS applies to California workers exposed to RCS except:
- Construction work covered under section 1532.3, which covers exposures to RCS
- Agricultural operations covered under section 3436, which covers machinery and equipment.
- Exposures that result from the processing of sorptive clays
Exposure Control Plan and Training
Under the ETS, the written exposure plan is expanded to include:
- Air monitoring records showing that engineering controls are effective.
- Procedures for the proper use of personal protective equipment.
- Documentation of proper report of carcinogen use to Cal/OSHA as required by section 5203.
- Training procedures to ensure employees can prevent RCS exposures.
The training for employees must include the use of required dust control methods and health hazards and symptoms of RCS exposure.
Cal/OSHA has a Model Exposure Control Plan available on its website.
If you have questions about compliance with the ETS for Silica or related issues, contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.