Brace Yourself: Strict, New OSHA Silica Rules Are Coming

by The Team at Axley Brynelson, LLP

OSHA has proposed new rules governing silica exposure that will have far-reaching impacts on the fracking industry. The rules were proposed in 2013 and are expected to become final any day. Under the proposed rule, the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for silica dust would be cut in half, to 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air. The proposed change would affect all industries and create a uniform standard for general industry and construction.

OSHA’s supporting documentation for the proposed standard relies on numerous studies linking exposure to silica dust to numerous adverse health effects, and that silica dust is a carcinogen. Because of these studies, OSHA claims that the proposed rule will prevent thousands of silica-related deaths over the next several years. The proposed rule also imposes strict testing and monitoring requirements for exposure, and proposes numerous methods of compliance. The bottom line is that compliance with the final rules will require significant changes to the operating procedures of the entire industry—from sand mining, to hauling, to end users in the oil fields. The proposed rules could also be used as ammunition for opponents of the fracking industry to bring new challenges to sand mine siting, and drilling operations in the interest of public health and safety.


Join Attorneys Buck Sweeney and Mitch Olson of Axley Brynelson LLP, at the 2016 Frac Sand Industry Update on March 10th, for a presentation on the proposed silica rules, how you can prepare your company and your operations for compliance, and what it means for the future of fracking. You can’t afford to miss this presentation!