industry topics

Silica

What is crystalline silica?

It is one of the most abundant substances on earth, and can be found in rock, stone, brick, tile, and concrete. High levels of exposure have been linked to cancer and silicosis, a potentially fatal lung disease. OSHA estimates that over 2.3 million workers are exposed to this substance in the workplace.

OSHA

Federal OSHA issued a new final rule in March, 2016 that reduces the exposure limit drastically, from 250ug/m3 (construction) or 100 µg/m3 (general industry), to 50 ug/m3. The enforcement of the rule will be staged depending on the industry. The first to be subject to the new limits will be the construction industry where enforcement of the new limits starts September 23, 2017. OSHA expects compliance with the new rule will result in the prevention of approximately 900 new cases of silicosis annually.

Compliance Overview

As part of a workplace compliance program, each employer with employees exposed above the Action Level of 25 µg/m3 will be required to prepare a written silica exposure plan. The plan must speak to a number of issues, including how the employer will demonstrate compliance with the new rules at the job site. A key component of that part of the plan will be to ensure all instructions provided by equipment and accessory manufacturers are followed. This will help ensure product is being used correctly to minimize silica exposure.

When it comes to specific methods of compliance, there are a few options. These include:

 

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