by David McGill, CIH, CSP, CHMM
OSHA 29 CFR 1926.1153 Breakdown: A Review of “Scope and Definitions”
We’re continuing to move forward with silica. I’m focusing on the construction standard first because it’s being implemented the soonest (June 23, 2017).
The OSHA construction silica standard (29 CFR 1926.1153) is divided into four sections:
- Scope and Definitions
- Table 1
- Exposure Assessment – if you don’t or can’t use Table 1
- Additional Requirements
For silica, OSHA changed the scope from their usual language. For the silica scope, it reads:
“(a) Scope and application. This section applies to all occupational exposures to respirable crystalline silica …, except where employee exposure will remain below 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air … under any foreseeable conditions.”
The Scope – Any Foreseeable Condition
Unfortunately, “any foreseeable condition” isn’t defined in the text of the Standard. To get clarification on that, we have to go to the preamble of the silica Standard. In the preamble, OSHA says that “any foreseeable condition” is one that can reasonably be anticipated, and failure of engineering controls is a foreseeable condition.
For example, OSHA won’t let you say that since you are using wet methods (an engineering control) to keep exposures below 25 micrograms, you don’t need to implement the other requirements. If your wet methods fail (e.g., water shuts off, water freezes, etc.), then your workers could be exposed above 25 micrograms.
If you can ensure your workers’ silica exposure will be below 25 micrograms under any conditions (i.e., any foreseeable conditions), then you don’t need to do anything else.
Definitions – Competent Person
OSHA added a little more responsibility to the definition of competent person. For silica, a competent person must be familiar with the written exposure control plan; must have access to the written exposure control plan; and must make frequent and regular inspections of the job sites, materials, and equipment to implement the exposure control plan.
OSHA was very clear that a competent person does not need to be supervisor, foreman, or a professional safety person. A competent person can be anyone on the job site, and there can be several competent persons on a job site. But the competent person(s) must be familiar with the exposure control plan and have the ability and authority to recognize and make changes if it isn’t being implemented correctly.
The way I read this, a competent person must be on the job site when silica tasks are being completed. One last thing, the employer designates the competent person(s), and there are no specific certification or training requirements. However, the competent person(s) must be knowledgeable about the exposure control plan AND be able to enforce it.
That’s enough of the scope and definitions for now. The remainder of the definitions are relatively routine and don’t really need any further clarification.
We all figured this new silica standard was going to be big. OSHA sure didn’t disappoint us.
Next: Table 1.