Silica dust and silicosis has been a topic of conversation for quite some time now, especially in recent months as it has officially made it to the final rule stage of OSHA’s regulatory agenda. OSHA aims to reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) and create a comprehensive standard that would include requirements for compliance methods, exposure monitoring, training and medical surveillance.
Currently, silica dust exposure is being enforced, but based off of a 40-year old exposure limit rule.
Silica dust is found in many building materials, including concrete, sand, rock and mortar. Dust is produced in many instances, including grinding, drilling and sand blasting of these materials. These dusts are extremely harmful as they cause silicosis, a lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica dusts, which has no cure. These dusts can also lead to lung cancer, tuberculosis and COPD.
There are three main methods of prevention:
- Use Water – water keeps silica out of the air and your lungs.
- Use a Vacuum – capture dust right where it starts. HEPA vacuum filtration keeps dust out of the air and your lungs.
- Wear a Respirator – employers are required to have a full, written respiratory protection program. Respirators protect your lungs from dangerous dusts.
Construction workers are currently exposed to twice the amount of silica dust as general industry workers. Ruling regarding silica will provide a consistent level of exposure for all workers.
Stay informed as OSHA works to create comprehensive ruling for silica dust exposures.
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