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Comment Period Almost Over for OSHA Crystalline Silica Proposal, Cont.

As discussed on Monday, the permissible exposure level (“PEL”) for crystalline silica may soon be changing. OSHA has proposed a rule that would establish a new PEL, along with other safety measures to protect against the hazardous material. It should be kept in mind that any federal regulation set is the minimum standard that an employer must adhere to; it is always permissible for an employer to set more stringent requirements (in this case, a lower PEL) for their workplace. In addition, here are some recommended tips for employers whose workforces encounter crystalline silica:

  • Schedule and adhere to routine inspections for all dust controls, such as water sprays and exhaust ventilation;
  • Educate employees on the health risks associated with the dust. Emphasize that smoking may exacerbate the problems associated with silica;
  • Offer employee training programs throughout the year on current regulations, proper use of equipment, and best practices on the worksite;
  • If special equipment, such as respirators, is needed, do not allow employees to alter them in any way. Doing so may render them ineffective. Inspect equipment and have replacements on-hand;
  • Offer disposable work clothes to employees or on-site washing facilities. Alternatively, make it a policy that employees must change clothes before leaving the worksite;
  • Do not allow employees to eat, drink or smoke in dust areas;
  • Encourage frequent hand and face washing.

If you are interested in submitting comments on the proposed rule, you must do so before January 27th. Keep in mind that OSHA is specifically looking for ways to make implementation and regulation easier on small businesses that may be greatly affected by the new rule. If you are an employer and have any OSHA-related compliance questions, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys in our labor and employment department.

Cindy Effinger

Cynthia L. Effinger, an Associate of the firm, joined McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC in 2012. Ms. Effinger’s practice is concentrated in the areas of employment law and commercial litigation. She also has experience with First Amendment litigation, securities litigation and complex litigation. Ms. Effinger may be reached at (502) 327-5400, ext. 316 or ceffinger@mmlk.com

This article is intended as a summary of  state and federal law and does not constitute legal advice.

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