Today (March 24, 2016) OSHA released its final rule on worker exposure to silica. As expected, and as was discussed at the 2016 Frac Sand Industry Update on March 10, they reduced the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air (half of the previous limit). They
require employers to take steps to limit exposure (engineering controls, respirators, limited access to high exposure areas, etc.) and provide medical exams and information to their workers. The rule also offers some flexibility (and consulting) for small businesses to protect their workers from exposure.
Industry response has been mixed. The National Industrial Sand Association, which has great expertise in the field of monitoring and reducing silica exposure,
published a statement expressing general support for the rule, but opposes the new PEL limits, saying they are unnecessary. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out much stronger against the rule, as cited today in the Wall Street Journal.
We will be adding presentations and a panel discussion regarding this topic (and solutions) to the agenda of the 5th Annual Frac Sand Supply & Logistics Conference, being held in October in San Antonio. This is the largest frac sand related event of the year, and is attended by industry leaders from throughout the supply chain. Those interested in learning how the new rule will impact their business, and those who can offer solutions, are encouraged to
register for the conference.