08Nov 2018

Ask the Expert – Controlling Silica Dust Exposures

Question: I see that there’s a new regulation about silica exposures. But, I’m having trouble finding information on how to comply? What can I do to comply with the regulation?

Answer: Yes, you are right! In fact, there are two: one for the construction industry that took effect last September and one for general industry and maritime that took effect June 23, 2018.

The new standards call for dust control measures such as water-fed or ventilated tools to keep silica dust exposures below 50 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter of air). General industry and maritime operations must also conduct air monitoring to verify compliance. Construction companies can bypass the air monitoring requirements by following specific control measures set forth in Table 1 of the new standard.

Other requirements for all industries include:

  • A written exposure control plan. (Construction companies must designate a competent person to implement the written exposure control plan).
  • Limited employee access to high exposure areas.
  • Respirators, if you’re unable to reduce exposures below the acceptable limit.
  • Use of low dust housekeeping practices only.
  • Providing periodic medical exams for employees exposed to high levels of silica for 30 or more days per year.
  • Training employees on silica dust hazards and recordkeeping.

Your State Fund loss prevention consultant or industrial hygienist can help you determine silica exposures in your business, identify methods to reduce exposures, and conduct air monitoring if needed.

For more information:

https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/respiratory-silica-FAQ.html

https://www.osha.gov/dsg/topics/silicacrystalline/

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3681.pdf

 

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