OSHA's final rule on silica weighs in at 606 pages, and while it's an important new addition to the regulatory environment, there are better ways to tackle this issue than to start with that massive document. Instead, try these three easy-to-read documents to get a quick summary of what's in the rule and what's in it for both your customers and your company. Going from easiest to the most detailed, they are:

  • A 2-1/2 page fact sheet on how the silica rule affects construction.
  • A nine-page collection of Frequently Asked Questions that provides basic info about silica, ways to abide by the rule, and enforcement dates.
  • A key table in the final rule that basically declares you're in compliance with the rule provided you follow certain practices.

For instance, here's what the new rule requires when you're using one of several types of saws to cut materials that can produce crystalline silica:

Excerpt from Table1 of the Federal Register rule on silica
Source: Federal Register

The presence of these measures suggests that the silica rule is unlikely to lead to as many of the paperwork violations as have occurred with the Environmental Protection Agency's lead-paint rule--violations which have prompted contractor complaints that regulators were more likely to penalize companies for failure to fill out forms than for failure to engage in safe practices.