OCCUSAFE CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety
IN THIS ISSUE: Effective Engineering Controls for Silica Dust
In the rush to comply with OSHA’s new Crystalline Silica Rule, now postponed until September 23, 2017, employers have been trying engineering controls to reduce employee exposure to silica below the new PEL of 50 micrograms per cubic meter. It is a best industrial hygiene practice to reduce worker exposure through engineering controls and, on an OSHA website, it specifically cites local exhaust ventilation as an example of an engineering control. However, it is important that any new control be thoroughly tested to make sure it is effective.
Recently, I was at a jobsite where workers were dry cutting concrete block. Previous testing results were above the new PEL. At the suggestion of a supplier, a circular saw with a vacuum connected to the blade shroud was used to perform the task and control dust. Unfortunately, results were no better using the local exhaust ventilation. After discussing this issue with a NIOSH scientist, he suggested that only engineering controls specifically designed and engineered for the application should be used.
As of yet, the wet method has been the only control that has been shown to be effective in controlling silica dust. Wet cutting is an effective way to reduce the amount of silica dust that becomes airborne because it controls the exposure at its source. Water can be supplied to the saws by either a pressurized container or by a constant water source such as a hose connected to a faucet. Despite claims of tool manufacturers, those tools with built-in exhaust ventilation should only be used if it is proven that they are effective.
For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or visit us at www.occusafeinc.com. OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.
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