After months of deliberation, on September 23, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began enforcing the new Silica Dust Rule. Estimated to save over 600 lives each year, the rule was developed to protect the 2.3 million workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica across multiple industries.
The enforcement of this rule has undergone several delays in an effort to develop educational resources helping employers navigate compliance. With education in mind, we thought we would provide manufacturers a bird’s eye view of this new rule. We’ve highlighted Crystalline Silica, the overall rule, and five major points employers should know regarding this change.
In addition, we also make you aware of the PPE products designed to protect a users’ eyes from dust. One of the most requested safety glasses at World of Concrete 2018 was for sealed eyewear protection. MCR Safety has designed over 10+ eyewear styles since 2010, designed to keep dust out of a wearers eyes.
Crystalline Silica and The Damage it Causes
Construction workers involved in sawing, grinding, or crushing concrete, stone or mortar are exposed to tiny particles of respirable crystalline silica. These workers are at high risk of developing a series of lung related illnesses. In an effort to protect workers from unnecessary exposure, OSHA issued new standards for employers regarding exposure.
Illnesses caused by exposure to crystalline silica:
- Silicosis: a potentially fatal and incurable lung fibrosis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Lung Cancer
Highlights of the Rule Itself
Thoughtfully developed with ease of implementation in mind, OSHA made a valiant effort to release educational resources and offer assistance for employers needing to become compliant. With fairly definitive guidelines, most employers can become compliant simply by following the directives on “Table 1”. Table 1 includes all the necessary engineering control recommendations for employers to limit exposure past the permissible limit. We will cover “Table 1”more in depth below.
Here are the top 5 things you need to know:
#1 - It Reduces the Permissible Exposure Limit Significantly
Since the 1960’s the World Health Organization, along with several other very credible scientific organizations have designated silica as a definitively known human carcinogen. This determination was later adopted by The American Cancer Society. The major victory of this Final Rule is the dramatic reduction of the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, previously 250 micrograms (average exposure over the course of 8-hours). Based on data from scientific studies conducted in the 1960’s, the old PELs were no longer relevant based on updated evidence. This new data indicates that those exposure levels were still extremely harmful to the workers exposed.
#2 - It Requires Employers to Use Engineering Controls to Protect Employees
With very specific control methods outlined, OSHA’s Rule does allow employers the alternative to independently measure exposure levels and determine specifically what controls would be most effective in reducing risk. A few examples of the 18 recommended engineering controls include:
- Using saws equipped with integrated water delivery systems
- Using shrouds around drill bits in conjunction with a dust collection system
- Operating tools as directed by manufacturers for maximum emission reduction
- Placing utility vehicle operators in enclosed cabs
The Reaper 3 is an excellent eyewear style for keeping dust out of your eyes when grinding.
#3 - Everything Employers Need to Follow is Included in Table
Typically, government safety regulations can be extremely ambiguous and hard to process. This usually results in confusion for managers and foreman responsible for developing safety policies and eventually a citation for non-compliance. The great news is that everything any employer needs to do to achieve compliance is covered in Table 1. It offers engineering controls and recommendations for all tasks responsible for generating high exposure levels.
Table 1 Covers:
- Stationary masonry saws
- Handheld power saws
- Walk behind saws
- Driveable saws
- Rig mounted core saws or drills
- Handheld and stand mounted drills
- Dowel drilling rigs for concrete
- Vehicle mounted drilling rigs for rock and concrete
- Jackhammers and handheld power chipping tools
- Handheld grinders for mortar removal
- Walk behind milling machines
- Small and Large Driveable Milling Machines
- Crushing Machines
- Heavy Equipment and Utility Vehicles
The PD1212PF is D4 ANSI rated for dust protection.
#4 – OSHA Has Developed Significant Training Materials to Help Employers
As mentioned above, final enforcement of this rule was delayed significantly. OSHA wanted to ensure enough published material and resources were available to help employers achieve compliance. Aside from the abundance of resources supplied by OSHA, experts recommend companies use operator manuals for relevant equipment to help train employees on the best practices in reducing Silica Exposure.
Here are some resources to consider:
#5 - OSHA Is Providing Assistance for Employers Via Compliance Assistance Specialists
In addition to training and reference documents, OSHA has offered to help employers become compliant on an individual basis by way of Compliance Assistance Specialists. These Specialists will provide employers general information regarding the final rule and resources for compliance. These specialists are available for one-on-one assistance as well as workshops and speaking events.
In addition to compliance specialists, OSHA offers a multitude of other compliance assistance resources including cooperative and partnership programs as well as Spanish speaking resources.
MCR Safety sealed eyewear styles
As you know by now, Dust is a constant concern for construction and concrete workers. From opening cement bags to construction machinery in use, you don’t have to look very far to see dust in the air. MCR Safety offers a collection of eyewear designed to prevent this type of exposure. We have created an entire educational page geared towards sealed eyewear styles.
A popular style introduced this year is the HellKat 3. It’s lightweight design, superior seal and 6X greater fog resistant coating made it a popular eyewear style at World of Concrete 2018.
MCR Safety Gear for Impaired Vision and Protection Against Silica Dust
Eye exposure to silica dust particles can have a multitude of consequences, ranging from mild irritation to blindness. Serious precautions should always be taken to prevent eye exposure to cement dust particles. Be sure to check out our concrete section on MCR Safety.com. We breakdown the PPE needed when facing associated hazards, one of these being impaired vision.
As mentioned above, educational resources are highly important when evaluating new OSHA rules. We highly recommend that any employer looking for safety gear education around their specific working applications should register for The MCR Safety 360° Protection Program. We will provide you with a thorough assessment of your operations and make safety gear recommendations.
For more information, browse our website, request a catalog, find a distributor, or give us a call at 800-955-6887.
Visit our online eyewear catalog and review our complete line of protective eyewear today!