TULSA, Okla., January 8, 2018 // A U.S. Appeals Court has rejected all industry challenges that would prevent enforcement of a stricter workplace standard for respirable crystalline silica exposure. With the decision finalized, AIRIS Wellsite Services encourages frac site employers to anticipate ways to achieve compliance with the multi-faceted new OSHA standard.
The standard seeks to limit the negative health consequences from breathing silica dust, a common byproduct of the fracking process. Excessive exposure can lead to silicosis, chronic lung disease and lung cancer.
OSHA’s stricter new standard for hydraulic fracturing operations reduces the permissible exposure limit to silica dust by 50% from to 100 to 50 μg/m3. It becomes enforceable in June 2018.
“While some have been focused on the headline-grabbing reduction to the Permissible Exposure Limit,” says AIRIS Wellsite Services CEO Brendan Ryan, “they may not realize there are more than 10 other significant obligations required by this rule.”
Other obligations meant to increase worker safety including publishing an exposure control plan, performing exposure assessments, educating frac site workers through a hazard communication program and providing medical surveillance for workers who are exposed.
AIRIS Wellsite Services has seen an increase in clients calling for its consultancy expertise. AIRIS solution providers prepare employers to achieve and maintain compliance by walking them through the details and nuances of the OSHA rule and provide solutions.
“For example, to achieve compliance with the exposure control plan obligation,” Ryan says, “it’s not enough just to write a plan and have it on file at company headquarters. The OSHA rule requires the plan be readily available for examination on site for any employee who asks for it.”
Companies that fail to maintain OSHA compliance risk citations and fines. Employers have the next six months to assess current levels of compliance in frac operations and seek a total dust control solution.