Almost two and a half million people are exposed to silica dust during the course of their daily work. Silica dust is found in concrete and stone. Any job that creates concrete or stone dust (drilling, sawing, crushing, etc…) releases that dust which can than be inhale. Most often engineering can control that dust, mostly through the use of water. Silica dust, however, is so harmful that controlling the dust simply isn’t enough. OSHA recently made some changes to the silica dust standard.
The new standard:
- Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour shift.
- Requires employers to control silica dust through engineering controls (water to keep the dust from getting in the air and using ventilation to remove what little dust remain).
- Requires employers to provide respiratory protection when the PEL is going to be over 50 micrograms and well as to keep employees from areas where the exposure might be higher than the PEL
- It also requires employers to provide proper training and medical testing for employees who might have had high exposures.
It also allows a new timeline for employers to comply with this new standard, especially the fracking industry which faces a daunting task in order to comply.