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Written By: Robert E. Sheriff, MS, CIH, CSP, President
April 5, 2020
New Crystalline Silica Dust Rule By OSHA Now In Effect
On March 23, 2016, OSHA published a new silica dust rule that the agency says will save about 700 lives and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis each year. The new regulation is referred to as 29CFR1926.1153 (Construction) and 29CFR1910.1053 (General Industry).
Crystalline silica is a natural element of the earth’s crust and a major component of common sand. Airborne silica dust is most often created by cutting, crushing and drilling concrete and stone products in construction and manufacturing/industry. Exposure affects construction workers in particular, but also workers throughout the U.S. industry, including the manufacture of glass, countertops, concrete products, plastics, roofing materials, paintings, and coatings. Also at risk are workers at oil and natural gas hydraulic fracturing (fracking) sites, where silica is mixed with water and chemicals to keep the underground fractures open so that natural gas and oil can stream out.
According to OSHA’s fact sheet, “these tiny particles (known as ‘respirable’ particles) can penetrate deep into workers’ lungs and cause silicosis, an incurable and sometimes fatal lung disease. Crystalline silica exposure also puts workers at risk for developing other diseases such as lung cancer, other potentially debilitating respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease.”
Crystalline Silica Dust Rule
OSHA’s crystalline silica dust rule will halve the daily permissible exposure limit (PEL). The former, somewhat complicated formula, changes to a fixed limit of 50 ug/M3 (PEL) with an Action Level (AL) of 25 ug/M3.
The new rule requires:
- Written Exposure Control Plan
- Exposure assessments and monitoring, including crystalline silica testing,
- Establishment of controlled access areas,
- Respiratory protection programs,
- Employee training,
- Medical surveillance of employees; and,
- Recordkeeping requirements
OSHA estimates that compliance for a small business in construction will cost employers approximately $1,000 per year; for the general industry, approximately $2,600 per year. On the plus side, OSHA estimates that over the next 60 years, the new rule would provide net benefits ranging from $2.8 billion to $4.7 billion annually and save hundreds of lives.
Testing for Crystalline Silica is Vital to Understanding Worker Risk and Exposure and Providing for Their Health and Safety.
As industrial hygienists, our ultimate objective is to protect employer liability by defending the health and safety of employees.
Atlantic Environmental, Inc. has 40 years of helping our clients put in place the most cost-efficient and effective solutions to safeguard employees from the harmful effects of crystalline silica and other regulated substances. We can test for crystalline silica and many other chemicals and interpret the results in terms of risk to human health. We support construction and industrial companies in their efforts to ensure regulatory compliance in all aspects of their health and safety programs. We can assist in developing solutions to ascertain the Silica PEL or Action Level including ventilation and other engineering controls.
For more information contact Atlantic Environmental.
Our primary service areas for Silica Sampling/Testing and OSHA Compliance are New Jersey NJ, New York NY, (New York City), Pennsylvania PA, Connecticut CT, Delaware DE, Massachusetts, (Boston) MA, Rhode Island RI, Washington DC, Wisconsin WI, Maryland MD, Michigan MI, Illinois (Chicago) IL, Virginia VA, Indiana IN, Georgia (Atlanta) GA, Alabama AL, North Carolina NC, South Carolina SC, Tennessee TN, Texas (Dallas, Ft Worth) TX, Oklahoma OK, DC, Arkansas AR, Florida FL. We can service most other areas of the U.S. but with some added travel charges.