However, now in 2016, OSHA finally passed their final rule on what has been a very political subject. One that the agency estimates will save more than 600 lives and prevent more than 900 cases of silicosis every, single year. In order to make this happen, they have lowered the PEL to half the previous limit for general industry and 5 times lower than the previous limit for construction (50 micro grams per cubic meter of air averaged during an 8-hour shift).
What is Crystalline Silica?
What is OSHA Expecting From The Employer to Protect Workers?
■ Replace crystalline silica materials with safer substitutes, whenever possible.
■ Provide engineering or administrative controls, where feasible, such as local exhaust ventilation, and blasting cabinets. Where necessary to reduce exposures below the PEL, use protective equipment or other protective measures.
■ Use all available work practices to control dust exposures, such as water sprays.
■ Wear only a N95 NIOSH certified respirator, if respirator protection is required. Do not alter the respirator. Do not wear a tight-fitting respirator with a beard or mustache that prevents a good seal between the respirator and the face.
■ Wear only a Type CE abrasive-blast supplied-air respirator for abrasive blasting.
■ Wear disposable or washable work clothes and shower if facilities are available. Vacuum the dust from your clothes or change into clean clothing before leaving the work site.
■ Participate in training, exposure monitoring, and health screening and surveillance programs to monitor any adverse health effects caused by crystalline silica exposures.
■ Be aware of the operations and job tasks creating crystalline silica exposures in your workplace environment and know how to protect yourself.
■ Be aware of the health hazards related to exposures to crystalline silica. Smoking adds to the lung damage caused by silica exposures.
■ Do not eat, drink, smoke, or apply cosmetics in areas where crystalline silica dust is present. Wash your hands and face outside of dusty areas before performing any of these activities.
■ Remember: If it’s silica, it’s not just dust.
What Industries Are Commonly Associated w/ Silica Exposure?
• Glass manufacturing
• Pottery products
• Structural clay products
• Concrete products
• Dental laboratories
• Paintings and coatings
• Jewelry production
• Refractory products
• Ready-mix concrete
• Cut stone and stone products
• Abrasive blasting in maritime, construction,
and general industry
• Refractory furnace installation and repair
• Railroad transportation
• Oil and gas operations