Silica


ASSP Provides Useful Guidance Document on New Silica Regulation

The Industrial Hygiene Practice Specialty of the American Society of Safety Professionals recently released a Silica Resource Guide for Contractors.  The goal of the Silica Resource Guide is to help contractors, safety professionals, and other stakeholders better understand the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1053 and 29 CFR 1926.1153.  

The guide, while brief, is full of useful links to help employers navigate the updated regulations, with an easy to use FAQ format.  For example:

Question: What is Table 1 and how is it applied?
Answer: Table 1 is a tool provided in the OSHA silica construction standard that lays out specific tasks common to the construction industry and describes ways to control employee exposure to silica. Examples include wet methods and dust collection vacuum attachments. The intent was to provide practical solutions to reduce exposures to respirable crystalline silica (RCS). OSHA has also created detailed fact sheets for Table 1 operations that may be helpful to your operations. OSHA plans to make additions to Table 1 and will reopen comments later in 2018, pending the regulatory agenda calendar.

The Silica Resource Guide provides silica-related resources on:

  • OSHA and Organizational resources
  • Table 1 interpretation
  • Air sampling requirements
  • Objective data
  • Medical surveillance
  • Respiratory protection
  • OSHA interpretations and enforcement guidance, and
  • Training

Silica Exposures Guidance Document

sandblastingThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published the document Controlling Silica Exposures in Construction for use in controlling hazards associated with work activities that may contribute to silica exposures that may be harmful to the health of individuals.

Work activities detailed include:

  • Handheld and Stationary Masonry Saws
  • Hand Operated Grinders
  • Jackhammers
  • Mortar Removal
  • Rock Drilling Rigs
  • Drywall Finishing

The document includes information dust control methods, work practices, personal protective equipment, engineering controls, and housekeeping that will limit an employee’s exposure to silica, which is known to cause silicosis.

For example:

Using a stationary saw without engineering controls can cause exposure to respirable silica to reach 2.0 mg/m3 or higher. Therefore, it is important to utilize effective controls to reduce employee exposures. Wet methods present the best choice for suppressing dust while cutting with stationary saws. Studies indicate that effective wet methods can reduce exposures below 0.05 mg/m3, as an 8-hour TWA. Stationary saws can be purchased with water-fed equipment, or existing saws can be retrofitted with water-fed attachments. Respiratory protection should not be necessary when using effective wet methods.

Additionally, the document references the need for conversion from the obsolete unit concentration of millions of particles per cubic foot (mppcf) (the units used in the Construction Industry standard – 29 CFR 1926.55(a)) to the current unit concentration of milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3) (the units used in the General Industry standard – 29 CFR 1910.1000(c)) via the following conversion factor:

1 mppcf = 0.1 mg/m3 respirable dust

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