New frack sand silica rule set to start in weeks

By Airis | June 04, 2018

On June 23, OSHA’s Silica Rule becomes fully enforceable. By this date, wellsite employers will need to have implemented a total dust control solution to combat the hazards associated with respirable crystalline silica exposure.

OSHA’s standard cuts the acceptable exposure limit roughly in half to 50 μg/m3 and encourages a 75-percent reduction for optimal levels, according to AIRIS Vice President and Controller, Katie Sallee.

“However, this is only one part of the rule,” said Sallee. “Many companies don’t realize the regulations have 10 other requirements.”

The regulations also require:

  • Comprehensive exposure control plan
  • Exposure assessment
  • Engineering and work practice controls
  • Housekeeping
  • Medical surveillance and record keeping
  • Regulated areas and PPE
  • Communication of hazards

From a controller’s perspective, Sallee encourages companies to take steps now before they are hit with fines from OSHA. The maximum fine amount for serious violations and for failure to abate is $12,675.

“But, this is per violation,” said Sallee. “If your wellsite has multiple violations, you can easily hit six figures fast. Not to mention, some fines are per day—now you’re risking seven figures.”

Willful or repeated violations have the possibility of receiving an additional $126,749 fine that can also compound per day.

With only 30 days left, E&P and service companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing activity should look for a partner that can help mitigate both the health and financial risks associated with overexposure to respirable silica dust.