Here’s what you need to know.
Background: Respirable crystalline silica is produced by the drilling, cutting, and grinding of materials that contain silica, such as concrete, stone, and brick. Health effects of silica dust include silicosis, lung cancer, kidney disease, and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).
The New Rule: The rule cuts the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for silica dust to 50 micrograms of silica per cubic meter (µg/m3) of air, as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA). The old silica PEL was 250 µg/m3. Note that this is quite a drastic reduction. Read the rule here.
What does this mean for your business?
- Establish and implement a written exposure control plan that identifies tasks that involve exposure and methods used to protect workers.
- Provide respirators to protect workers when engineering controls cannot limit exposures to the PEL. This requires compliance with 29 CFR 1910.134 which necessitates a written respirator program.
- Hazard communication: The employer shall include respirable crystalline silica in the program established to comply with the hazard communication standard (HCS) (29 CFR 1910.1200).
- Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure.
- Restrict housekeeping practices that expose workers to silica where feasible alternatives are available.
- Limit workers’ access to areas where they could be exposed above the PEL.
- Medical surveillance: the employer shall make medical surveillance available for each employee who will be required to use a respirator for 30 or more days per year.
How AirQuest can help.
- Assist employers with compliance
- Air sample for respirable crystalline silica
- Prepare written exposure control plan
- Prepare and/or update written hazard communication program
- Prepare written respirator program
- Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure
- Provide consultation services pertaining to implementation of engineering controls and work practices to minimize exposure