Hydraulic Fracturing: OSHA’s PEL Compliance Deadline
Dec 12, 2019
While the date of June 23, 2021 still appears to be far away, it limits the amount of time the fracturing industry must comply with OSHA’s regulation. OSHA, on March 25, 2016 published a regulation on exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust. Employees must not be exposed to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air within an 8-hour time average in the fracturing industry. While this regulation has been around for roughly 4 years, the hard deadline for the fracturing industry compliance is 2021.
How to Comply in 2021
Regarding general compliance, there are regulations for any foreseeable condition’s employers can combat against. The current PEL regulation for employees exposed to crystalline silica dust for above 100 micrograms per cubic meter is being cut in half to make the 2021 deadline of 50 micrograms per cubic meter. The new PEL regulation’s purpose is for OSHA to ensure employers are protecting employees from excessive exposure limits while working. However, with this exposure limit come additional regulations:
- Employers must assess workplace exposure and meet laboratory requirements.
- Employers must disallow access to areas where exposure limits exceed 50 micrograms per cubic meter PEL.
- Employers must grant respiratory protection to employers in these exposure conditions.
- Employers must create a protection program with an appointed program administrator.
- Employers must grant complimentary medical surveillance for those exposed to above the PEL.
- Employers must clearly identify hazardous areas through visible and verbal communication to ensure knowledge can be restated by all employees in the workplace.
- Employers must ensure secondary exposure is limited.
- Employers must implement a written plan to ensure full control on limitations.
To comply with this new regulation, engineering control has continued to be a term associated with PEL control. However, OSHA does not require specific engineering control machines, rather, they suggest certain engineering controls that are up and coming. Of these controls, a ventilation system to control dust produced through sand movers, conveyors, and blender hoppers; portable dust controls that reduce 40 to 95 percent of dust emissions surrounding workers; and the modification of proppants with some type of dust suppressant. Each of these technologies will allow for compliance with the harsh June 23, 2021 deadline set by OSHA.
The Impact on the Industry
With such little education on the future of compliant technology, the economic impact of OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica dust regulation is unknown. The hydraulic fracturing industry has been around since the 1940s, and up until recently very few regulations were in place to ensure the safety of workers. The new regulations are burdensome on hydraulic fracturing companies, regardless of their size. With that, these regulations will have a profound medical impact on those currently working in the hydraulic fracturing industry.
What does this have to do with Industrial Vacuum?
While not directly stated by OSHA, engineering controls are ways of subduing the hazard present within the hydraulic fracturing industry. Suggestions, by OSHA, for maintaining the hazard present while fracking consist of certain up and coming technologies. Industrial Vacuums products, such as our dust collectors, comply with controlling the hazard present in the hydraulic fracturing industry. If you want to learn more about our products for sale or rent; or just want to learn more about how we can assist your hydraulic fracturing business, contact us today.