Posted: 31 May '18

Top Solutions and Techniques Silica Exposure Mitigation

Silica is plentiful in the earth’s crust. Its crystalline form is found in materials like stone, sand, mortar, and concrete. Crystalline silica is used in making products like pottery, ceramics, bricks, glass, and artificial stone. However, when crystallized and inhaled, silica is hazardous to your workers hence the need for silica exposure mitigation.

Respiratory crystalline silica is created when your workers cut, saw, grind, blast, drill, and crush stone, concrete, brick, mortar, or block. At least 2.3 million people in America are exposed to silica while working. Construction workers who inhale crystalline silica particles are more prone to developing serious diseases such as:

  • Silicosis
  • Lung cancer
  • Kidney disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Due to these serious health effects, you need to learn and implement silica exposure mitigation techniques and solutions to protect your workers. On its part, OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) issued two new crystalline silica standards that are respirable. One is for general maritime and industry use, and the other for construction.

Effective Solutions

The new OSHA rule has reduced the permissible crystalline Silica exposure limit (PEL) to50 µg/m3, which is averaged over a daily eight-hour shift. To reach this target, you need to use silica exposure mitigation techniques such as:

  • Using engineering controls such as industrial ventilation or water to mitigate exposure levels
  • Limiting your employees’ access to high-exposure areas
  • Developing a written exposure plan
  • Provide your employees with respirators if other silica exposure mitigation controls are not enough
  • Offer regular medical examinations to highly-exposed employees
  • Train all your industrial workers on silica risks as well as best practices to use to eliminate exposure

OSHA-Approved Methods of Silica Exposure Mitigation for Employee Protection

1. Table Method: OSHA created an industry-approved table that lists the different equipment control methods and tasks that it has determined reduces silica exposure to acceptable levels. The table takes into consideration different times and environments.

2. Performance or Objective Data: Here, you can use objective data such as air monitoring to provide evidence that your silica exposure mitigation methods are below the PEL.

3. Scheduled Air Monitoring Program: Here, exposure is assessed through a steadfast air monitoring program to ensure silica exposure mitigation.

According to OSHA, these new silica exposure mitigation rules will save over 600 lives annually and prevent another 900 new cases of silicosis once full implementation adheres. Although these regulations may seem stiff, prompt, and inconvenient, they place priority on the health and safety of your workers.

For more information about silica exposure mitigation techniques or industrial ventilation systems, contact us, today.