Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently changed the game for silica standards by requesting information of Table 1 of the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction. The hope is that, with this extra information, more regulations could be put into place and fewer businesses and workers will feel the regulatory and safety burdens.
Silica, or silicon dioxide, is a compound that is more than just dust. When workers are exposed to silica, it can lead to serious health problems. It’s often found in quartz, but it’s also a major component of sand. The reason OSHA is requesting more information on Table 1 of the standard is for precisely that reason: they are hoping to effectively limit exposure to silica (and sequential health risks) by understanding more about the equipment and tasks listed under Table 1. They are specifically requesting more information on engineering practices and work practice control methods. Once they have a clear understanding of how exposure is or isn’t being limited, they’ll be able to propose control methods to improve work conditions.
OSHA is also requesting information about other equipment and tasks that may not be in Table 1 but may still be generating silica. Not only will this information also lead to enhancements in control methods for silica-generating equipment and practices, but it will provide valuable data on what exposure to silica means and how it affects workers in different workplace conditions. Table 1 may expand beyond the construction industry to other engineering methods.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 states that employers are required to provide a safe environment for their employees. By gathering this information, OSHA hopes to both reduce regulatory burdens and help protect employees.
One great solution to control dust emissions in the workplace? Turn it into slurry! Stay tuned to our blog as we discuss more about this in coming months.