OSHA’s Proposed Rule for Silica-February 2014

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety 

February 2014

IN THIS ISSUE: OSHA’s Proposed Rule for Silica

Recently, OSHA announced a dramatic reduction for crystalline silica compared to the current regulation. The proposed rule would include a Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 50 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3), the same as the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommended exposure limit.

Silica, a basic component of soil, sand, granite, and many other minerals, is a lung carcinogen that becomes respirable when workers chip, cut, drill, or grind objects that contain crystalline silica.  Silica dust enters the lungs and causes scar tissue to form, thus reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. Silicosis has long been recognized as an occupational disease.

For many years, industrial hygienists have recognized that the 40-year-old OSHA PEL does not adequately protect workers who may be exposed to silica. Although not having the rule of law, they have relied on the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) which has adopted the 8-hour time weighted average for Silica Quartz and Silica Cristobalite two major types of Crystalline Silica, of 25 ug/m3. The majority of exposed workers are those in construction. However, workers in other industries may be included. Those are: brick, concrete, and pottery manufacturing, foundry work, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in oil and gas production, and sandblasting operations in general industry and maritime.

”Because of the sometimes contentious rule-making process, no one knows what the final Silica standard will be or when it will be implemented,” explains Gary R. Ticker, CIH, CSP. “However, this does not mean employers have to wait to protect worker health. ”

Employee exposures can and should be controlled by wetting down work operations to keep silica-containing dust from getting into the air, enclosing or isolating the operation, or using a vacuum to collect dust at the point where it is created before workers inhale it. For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or contact us at occusafe@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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