OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.

November 2, 2018

Mr. Michael Peelish
Law Office of Adele L. Abrams, P.C.
4740 Corridor Place, Suite D
Beltsville, Maryland 20705

Dear Mr. Peelish:

Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your letter was forwarded to the Directorate of Enforcement Programs for a response. You requested clarification on whether the use of grit- and water-based sweeping compound(s) are acceptable dust suppression housekeeping methods under OSHA's Respirable Crystalline Silica Standards, 29 CFR 1910.1053 and 1926.1153. Below is your paraphrased scenario followed by our response.

Background: OSHA's housekeeping standard prohibits the use of dry sweeping or dry brushing where such activity could contribute to employee exposure to respirable crystalline silica unless wet sweeping, HEPA-filtered vacuuming or other methods that minimize the likelihood of exposure are not feasible. 29 CFR §§ 1910.1053(h)(1); 1926.1153(f)(1). OSHA's October 19, 2017, Interim Enforcement Guidance for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard in Construction explained that sweeping compounds may be considered an acceptable dust suppression housekeeping method, and provided non-grit, oil, and waxed-based compounds as examples.

Your client believes that the guidance implies that sweeping compounds that are grit- and water- based would be prohibited since they were not listed among the examples. Your client, a manufacturer of grit- and water-based sweeping compounds, requests these products be included in OSHA's interim enforcement guidance. The company further requests that OSHA issue a clarification specifying grit- and water-based sweeping compound(s) as acceptable sweeping compound(s) and dust suppression housekeeping methods under the silica standard.

Response: As an initial matter, OSHA cannot specifically instruct users about the appropriateness of your client's product, as OSHA does not endorse or approve products. However, the various types of sweeping compounds included in the interim guidance memo were merely examples; the list was neither exhaustive nor exclusionary. It does not preclude the use of other commercially available dust suppression materials not mentioned, including grit- and water-based sweeping compounds, as potentially acceptable dust suppression housekeeping methods.

OSHA issued a subsequent memorandum on June 25, 2018, titled Interim Enforcement Guidance for the Respirable Crystalline Silica in General Industry/Maritime standard, 29 CFR 1910.1053, explaining that "[t]he use of sweeping compounds (e.g., grit-, non-grit, oil- or waxed or water-based) is an acceptable dust suppression housekeeping method provided the employer can demonstrate that such compounds do not create additional exposures." [Emphasis added] As OSHA explained in recently-issued FAQs, the proper use of commercially-available dust suppression sweeping compounds used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions is a cleaning method that minimizes the likelihood of exposure for the purposes of OSHA's housekeeping provision.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA's requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our letters of interpretation do not create new or additional requirements but rather explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. From time to time, letters are affected when the Agency updates a standard, a legal decision impacts a standard, or changes in technology affect the interpretation. To assure that you are using the correct information and guidance, please consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.

If you have further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190.

Sincerely,

 

Kimberly Stille, Acting Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs