Respirable Crystalline Silica!
The deadline for compliance is coming up fast. Unlike many other OSHA standards, this particular one affects workers across a wide range of industry; Construction, General Industry, Maritime and Hydraulic Fracturing operations (all have different dates for required compliance). The first group to be affected is the Construction Industry, which has to be in compliance by June 23, 2017.
This new standard is extremely important and may be disruptive to many construction operations across the country. About 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush, or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone. When you see a cloud of dust around a construction worker cutting concrete, I can almost assure you that this employee is well over the permissible exposure limit for the amount of dust they are allowed to breath. If you think simply handing them a respirator will solve that problem, you would be wrong!
This new rule will require “engineering controls” (such as water spray to control the dust, ventilation systems or even vacuums) to help limit the exposure to this dangerous dust. If these engineering systems cannot adequately control the dust, then respirators will need to be provided. It is anticipated that air monitoring documentation will be needed, however, there is still confusion as to when and how much air monitoring will be required to help keep compliance.
A great source to help learn more about the provisions to this new standard can be found at: www.osha.gov/silica
Once at this web site, there are excellent resources found on this page:
- You can read and print off the actual standard (in full)
- Overview of the rule
- Fact sheet on Construction (or other categories of industry)
- Frequently asked questions
- Air sampling methods and medical surveillance
- Video overview of the standard
Don’t forget about employee training. This is a “performance-based” standard so compliance is less about a signature stating the employee attended a class, but more about the employee’s ability to perform or demonstrate knowledge of the new rules. OSHA expects that 1 full hour, on average, will be required for covering most workers.
While trying to figure out how to comply can be daunting, it is important to start getting yourself familiar with the new standard now and not waiting until June roles around! The OSHA standard provides a simple table (Table 1 under 1926.1153) that has “Specified Exposure Control Methods When Working With Materials Containing Crystalline Silica”. For many customers, this table will be easy to follow and help them determine what to do when performing common construction tasks!
Michael Tesmer, Safety Services Manager
Conney Safety Products
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