Can you tell what’s wrong with this picture?
While we see many issues with this picture, including he is cutting concrete without a faceshield or safety glasses and he does not have ear protection, but our focus for this blog is the silica crystalline dust that he is inhalling. Through the sawing process, silica crystalline is crushed into small particles 100 times smaller than sand. Silica dust is hazardous and has been classified as a human lung carcinogen. Breathing crystalline silica dust can cause kidney disease, lung cancer and silicosis, which in severe cases can be disabling, or even fatal. The respirable silica dust enters the lungs and causes the formation of scar tissues, thus reducing the lungs' ability to take in oxygen. There is no cure for silicosis. Since silicosis affects lung function, it makes one more susceptible to lung infections like tuberculosis.
The man in the picture should be wearing a respirator in addition to limiting his exposure to the dust all together according to new OSHA regulations.
Occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica occurs when cutting, sawing, drilling, and crushing of concrete, brick, ceramic tiles, rock, and stone products. Exposure also occurs in operations that process or use large quantities of sand, such as foundries and the glass, pottery and concrete products industries. OSHA estimates that more than 2.3 million workers in the United States are potentially exposed to dust containing crystalline silica with nearly 90% of those workers employed in the construction industry.
New OSHA Requirements
In March of 2016, OSHA mandated a new rule that reduces workers’ permissible exposure limits from 250 micro grams per cubic meter of air over an average of eight hours, the typical work shift, to 50 micro grams. Additionally, the new regulation requires that employers use engineering controls like water or ventilation to comply with the limits or supply workers with personal protective equipment such as a respirator.
Employers are also required to limit workers’ exposure, develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams and lung health information for those workers who are exposed to high levels of silica, and implement a training program for workers about the effects of breathing silica and how to decrease exposure.
Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Employees
Recognizing potential hazards is key in preventing and minimizing the diseases caused by silica exposure. Silica exposure remains a serious threat to millions of U.S. workers, including more than 100,000 workers in high risk jobs such as abrasive blasting, foundry work, stone cutting, rock drilling, quarry work and tunneling.
At Arbill, we're here to help you protect your workers from respiratory illness by providing quality respiratory protection equipment and proper fit testing. In addition, Arbill offers multiple respiratory training programs and can provide yearly training that satisfies OSHA’s respiratory standards and medical evaluations for employees.
Schedule a consultation with an Arbill Safety Expert today to evaluate your respiratory protection equipment and develop a training program to meet your needs.
Have a Safe Day!