Respirable crystalline silica dust, a harmful airborne pathogen that causes adverse health effects. The general industry and maritime employers were required to comply with OSHA’s PEL and Crystalline Silica Dust Standard on June 23, 2018. The Crystalline Silica Dust Standard required employers to provide medical surveillance to the employees exposed to above the permissible exposure limit (PEL) standard for 30 days or more a year. With 2020 quickly approaching, this medical surveillance standard is overdue. Once June 23, 2020 comes around employers will be required to provide medical surveillance to employees exposed to above the action level for 30 days or more a year.
What is the difference between Action Level and PEL?
Permissible exposure limit (PEL) is the maximum amount of time a worker can be exposed to a concentrated chemical amount according to OSHA. There are differing exposure limits based on the individual chemical a worker is being exposed to. These exposure limits are calculated based on a time weighted average. These limits are put in place to understand what type of medical surveillance employees need after encountering harmful chemicals.
Action levels are used to showcase a health or physical hazard workers may encounter. OSHA found that the level of hazardous substances within the workplace activities required medical surveillance. As medical surveillance increases industrial hygiene monitoring and biological monitoring. It is important to note that most action levels are one half the PEL. The intent is to update a vast majority of exposures below the PEL level.
If you are currently finding that your exposure level is close to 50% or exceeds 50%, you should consider taking appropriate action. When June 23, 2020 comes around you will be required to comply with the new action level standard.
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