OCCUSAFE CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety
IN THIS ISSUE: Air Monitoring Under the New Construction Silica Standard
As of September 23, 2017, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) began enforcing the new Respirable Crystalline Silica standard for construction. Studies have long shown that workers who are exposed to Silica have an increased risk of developing Silicosis, Lung Cancer, Chronic Obstructive, Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and Kidney disease. Silicosis is a disabling, irreversible, and sometimes fatal lung disease. Construction work such as abrasive blasting with sand, sawing brick or concrete, sanding or drilling into concrete walls, grinding mortar, manufacturing brick, concrete blocks, stone countertops, or ceramic products, and cutting or crushing stone, can generate Silica dust.
As part of the new standard, Table 1 lists eighteen tasks along with various controls that can be used to protect workers from overexposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica. If all the requirements of the table are followed, initial or periodic air monitoring is not required. However, if all the requirements for a task listed in the table cannot be met or if there are tasks not listed in the table that may also expose workers, then air sampling is required.
Initial air monitoring should be conducted to assess the 8-hour Time Weighted Average (TWA) exposure for each employee on the basis of one or more personal breathing zone air samples that reflect the exposures of employees. This testing should be on each shift for each job classification and in each work area.
If the Action Level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air is met or exceeded, then air sampling must be repeated every six months. If the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air is met or exceeded, testing must be repeated every three months. Air monitoring may be discontinued once there are two rest results, at least seven days apart, which are below the Action Level. Specific Methods of Sample Analysis is provided in Appendix A of 1926.1153.
Personal air monitoring is an important part of any safety and health program. Testing should be conducted as the law required or if employers want to go beyond the OSHA requirements to ensure that their workers and not overexposed to Silica.
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