OSHA and Silica Exposure in Construction Part 2
In Part 1 of this two-part article we introduced you to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) campaign to end Silicosis and their final rule in the protection of workers against crystalline silica exposure. In this second part we’ll talk about the importance of protecting workers and discuss ways employers and workers can limit exposure to silica dust during routine construction operations.
Why You Should Be Concerned
OSHA stresses the importance of worker protection since Silicosis, a lung disease caused by inhaling excess amounts of silica dust, can be debilitating and even fatal in some cases. You are responsible for worker safety on your construction site and will be fined if you do not adhere to the new safety standards and requirements instituted by OSHA. If an incident is reported, OSHA will investigate, inspect, cite, and impose penalties should you be found out of compliance.
Understanding the intricate details of federal guidelines can be overwhelming, but our OSHA attorneys are intimately familiar with OSHA standards for a safe and healthy workplace and are available to assist you with any silica related workplace incidents you may experience.
Ways You Can Protect Construction Workers From Silica Exposure
OSHA is allowing businesses flexibility in how they choose to limit worker exposure to silica and even list methods employers can go about protecting their workers. Following are some ways employers can limit worker exposure.
- Keep silica exposure levels at or under OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) which is 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air in an 8-hour period
- Providing respirators
- Using engineering controls like water or ventilation to reduce dust in the air
- Limiting access to high exposure areas
- Use silica substitutes to eliminate silica altogether
- Provide a written exposure control plan that helps identify silica hazards and ways to control silica dust
- Offer workers medical exams
- Train workers on silica risks and monitoring
What Workers Can Do
Workers should also take steps to protect themselves by:
- Practicing proper grooming techniques like limiting facial hair, showering before going home, and wearing disposable or washable work clothing
- Participating in monitoring and training for silica exposure
- Understanding the risks of silica exposure and knowing what operations will expose you to silica dust and take proper steps to reduce your exposure
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.