Respirable Crystalline Silica Exposure: General Industry Gets in on the Act

As you may have heard, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rolled out a new standard for silica exposure to the construction industry last year. While it seems reasonable to believe that silica enforcement will be in full swing now that the weather has warmed in construction work is underway, it cannot be forgotten that silica exposure-and the new requirements-aren’t subjected only to construction. General Industry and Maritime also have a new silica standard rolling out on July 23rd, 2018.

What is Silica, and Where is it Found?
Silica is found in many industries, especially where there is contact with concrete, sand, stone, and bricks. When it is in respirable form, it can lead to a chronic disease of the lungs known as silicosis, which can form scar tissue on the lungs and make breathing difficult. Some examples of industries where silica can be found:

  • Brick manufacturing
  • Foundries
  • Hydraulic fracking
  • Abrasive blasting
  • Refractory furnace work
  • Glass manufacturing
  • Ready mix concrete
  • Pre-cast concrete

Key Points
Some of the high points of the new standard:

  • Requires air monitoring data for employees who may be exposed over the action limit
  • Cuts permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) over an eight-hour shift in half, from 100 micrograms per cubic meter to 50 micrograms per cubic meter
  • Also set an action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter, which kicks into effects many parts of the standard.
  •  Requires medical exams for employees who must wear respiratory protection for highly exposed employees, and gives them information about their lung health.

What Should You Do Now?

If you work in an industry above or in one where you think there may be an exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS), your first step would gather information on the amount of RCS your employees are exposed to. This is done by conducting air monitoring during the employee’s daily duties. Depending on where those readings fall, there could be more to address to comply with the standard, such as written exposure control plans, engineering options, respiratory protection and medical evaluations, and of course employee training.

For questions and/or more information about this brief, contact your Vista Safety Representative:

Roger M. Paveza, CRIS President

Kyle Cochran, CSP Sr. Vice President

Eric A. White, CHST, CRIS Sr. Vice President

Muhummad Starks Safety Consultant

Any information and/or recommendations contained herein have been compiled from sources believed to be reliable and represent the best current opinion on the subject. No warranty, guarantee, or representation is made by Vista Safety Consulting, LLC as to the absolute correctness or sufficiency of any information contained herein. This information is advisory and designed to assist clients with the implementation, management, and control of their own safety program and activities. Vista Safety Consulting, LLC assumes no responsibility for the implementation, correction, or control of any conditions or recommendations identified herein, and is thereby not liable for any health and safety violation(s) and/or injuries on a site.

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