Two Silica Rules for Construction: MSHA Issues their Final Rule

The Mine Safety and Health Administration issued its final rule to better protect miners against occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

The final rule, which was issued on April 18, will not only cover contractors who operate surface mines, but also any contractor who performs construction or maintenance activities at a mine site. After the publication of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s final rule addressing exposure to crystalline silica, many surface mine operators established programs that incorporated the OSHA requirements.

While the AGC supports MSHA’s efforts to protect mine workers from overexposure to crystalline silica, AGC and its partners on the Construction Industry Safety Coalition requested that MSHA exempt construction activities conducted on MSHA sites. Having to comply with two different rules will be confusing, duplicative, and unnecessary, especially when compliance with the OSHA silica standard has proven effective for construction operations.

However, MSHA’s final rule ignored AGC's request and includes construction activities. The rule does not include a Table 1 concept for easier compliance, prohibits rotation of employees as an administrative control, and only allows the use of respiratory protection on a limited basis at surface mines. Additionally, objective data and historical sample data may no longer be used to demonstrate compliance with exposure monitoring requirements.

Contact Kevin Cannon at or Nazia Shah for more information.

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