Silica Dust Enforcement in 2018

What is Silica and How is it Regulated?

OSHA is increasing the enforcement of silica-related hazards. The new regulation will go into effect in June of 2018 and will impact a variety of industries.

The process of cutting and grinding materials that contain crystalline silica particles carries an extreme health risk to the employee that is exposed. The microscopic dust particles created when working with these materials, known as silica dust, can cause severe health issues such as lung disease and cancer.

Materials such as sand, concrete, and stone contain silica components, and employees in the construction, fracking, glass, ceramics, and foundry sectors are at risk of exposure. OSHA has implemented safety standards that will take effect in June to increase the enforcement of silica-related-hazards in the workplace.

OSHA's new lower permissible exposure level (PEL) has been created in order to regulate levels of silica dust exposure to employees.

New Information

The silica dust regulation reduces the PEL to 50 micrograms of silica per cubic meter (50 µg/m3) of air over an 8-hour time-weighted average. The regulation sets forth an "action level" of 25 µg/m3 over the same time frame.

Employers in all industries must exhibit that employees will remain unexposed to silica-related hazards at the new PEL under any circumstance.

How Do I Act?

In order to communicate silica dust related hazards to employees in the workplace, a written hazard communication program is of high priority. Implementing a silica dust communication segment in your written HazCom program can help ensure that employees are informed and trained on exposure control.

Maintaining silica hazard labels in regulated areas of the workplace will support compliance with the new OSHA regulation.

Establish a plan to protect employees from silica-related hazards and maintain compliance with the new regulation.

Sources:

Ellington, Ana. Safety Summit 2018 - OSHA to begin enforcement of silica dust general industry rule. www.safety.blr.com. 12 February 2018.

Jacob Gospodnetich is the Marketing & Content coordinator for HCL Labels, Inc. He graduated San Jose State University in 2016 with his Bachelors in Business with a Concentration in Marketing.

Posted on May 18, 2018


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