The Time is Now to be OSHA-Ready for New Crystalline Silica Rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule to curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America’s workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

The new OSHA regulation, Respirable crystalline silica, Section 29 CFR 1926.1153, took effect on June 23, 2016. Industries have one to five years to comply with most requirements, based on the following schedule:

Construction – June 23, 2017, one year after the effective date.

General Industry and Maritime – June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date.

Employers who fully and properly implement the engineering controls, work practices and respiratory protections are not required to measure respirable silica exposures to verify levels at or below the PEL for workers.

For contractors, this means now is the time to make sure your equipment will comply.

OSHA Enforcement Table

(Fine information supplied from Contractor Supply Magazine)

About 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces. This includes 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in brick manufacturing, foundries and hydraulic fracturing.

Who Is Affected?

Anyone working on a construction site who creates or is exposed to silica dust in the course of performing work, including, but not limited to:

  • Grinding
  • Drilling
  • Barrel mixing
  • Edging
  • Cutting block
  • Sweeping
  • Shot blasting
  • Hand Grinding
  • Scarifying
  • Drywall sanding
  • Demolition
  • Precasting
  • Bricklaying
  • Broom sweeping

Key Provisions of the New Crystalline Silica Rule

  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
  • Requires employers to use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
  • Provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health.
  • Provides flexibility to help employers — especially small businesses — protect workers from silica exposure.

New Exposure Limits

New Silica Exposure LimitsChanges to the Permissible Exposure Level (PEL) of respirable crystalline silica is 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air (50μg/m3) at an 8-hour, time-weighted average (TWA) under any foreseeable conditions. The Action Level (AL) is 25 ug/m3 (0.025 mg/m3). You are at risk if the dust you breathe during an eight-plus-hour shift contains more RCS than the accessible amount, which is much smaller than a penny. 

How to Choose a HEPA Vacuum

  • High quality HEPA filters that are tested and certified, with a rating of at least 99.99 at 0.3 micron
  • 25 CFM per blade is required for hand grinders
  • High CFM & Water Lift for proper matching to equipment
  • Must have a mechanical filter cleaning method that is contained and allows no dust to escape
  • Multi levels of filtration, including a cyclonic chamber, pre-filters, HEPA’s and pre-separators
  • Drop down bagging containment systems, no dust can or tray
  • Availability to attach tools for collection at the source
  • Wet and dry availability when needed

For an in-depth look at the new regulation, read our blog, The New Crystalline Silica Rule – Are You OSHA-Ready?

Runyon Surface Prep is a full service stocking distributor for all your concrete prep, polishing, decorative, repair, restoration and maintenance needs. We carry the full line of Ermator vacuums and pre-separators, as well as grinders, removal equipmentoverlay productscolor products, densifiersmixersdiamond toolingpolyasparticsjoint fillers and much more. You name it, we have it!