The U.S. Department of Labor first emphasized the life-threatening hazards of respirable crystalline silica in the 1930s. Today, according to OSHA, approximately 2.3 million Americans are exposed to silica on a regular basis in the workplace.
Heavy equipment operators, construction, and plaster/drywall workers are the most at risk to being exposed to silica. The most severe exposures to crystalline silica result from abrasive blasting. Additionally, exposures may occur in cement, brick, and asphalt pavement manufacturing, ceramic manufacturing, and the steel and foundry industries.
Inhaling silica dust causes silicosis and lung cancer. The symptoms of silicosis include shortness of breath, chest pain, and difficulty in breathing, however, this illness can show no symptoms for many years. These non-reversible lung diseases are the target of the new OSHA silica regulation.
On March 2016, OSHA issued a FINAL RULE to protect American workers, limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica.
Final Rule’s Key Provisions:
The final rule took effect on June 23, 2016. However, OSHA’s memorandum has delayed the enforcement of this rule in order to provide additional guidance for employers. The rule is comprised of two standards: one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime. These industries have 1-5 years to comply with the requirements according to the following schedule approved by OSHA:
The implementation of this rule will prevent about 900 new cases of silicosis each year, and save 600 lives.
3M compiled a brief overview of means of respiratory protection against silica dust:
How do you know if you are providing enough protection? Talk to us at 800-829-9580 or visit us online https://www.pksafety.com/mas.html. We have PPE to help you protect your crew and keep your company compliant.