an OSHA image of a sandblaster at work

ISEA, RIMS Petition OSHA to Ban Silica in Sandblasting

The International Safety Equipment Association and the Risk and Insurance Management Society filed a petition April 28 asking OSHA to prohibit the use of silica in abrasive blasting. Sandblasting continues to be one of the areas of greatest exposure to respirable crystalline silica, and several organizations and countries have enacted prohibitions, ISEA President Daniel K. Shipp wrote in the letter addressed to Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor Jordan Barab.

Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, and Belgium; the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and Coast Guard; and 23 state departments of transportation have banned the use of silica in abrasive blasting, and the countries named “have demonstrated that the abrasive blasting process can be carried on effectively within the use of sand,” Shipp wrote. NIOSH has recommended a ban since 1974, he added.

WorkSafe Victoria, which enforces OSH regulations in the Australian state of Victoria, has banned the use of materials containing more than 1 percent crystalline silica in abrasive blasting since Jan. 1, 2002.

A safer, more economical abrasive blasting alternative is steel shot, which can be reused up to 1,800 times, Shipp wrote. He also cited the cost of litigation in which more than 30,000 workers since 2002 have claimed exposure to silica sand made them sick.

Mark Prysock, general counsel of RIMS, signed a statement submitted with the letter that states RIMS supports the petition.

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