It appears the construction industry still faces a learning curve when it comes to complying with federal rules governing crystalline silica dust.
More than 120 silica violations have been issued by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration since enforcement to limit the lung-damaging, airborne dust began October 23.
To help educate the industry, OSHA has added several online tools, including videos to demonstrate the proper way to protect workers from respirable crystalline silica while following Table 1 guidelines.
Table 1 lays out various construction tasks and the proper equipment needed to comply with the silica rules. Following Table 1 standards for equipment, which includes vacuums, shrouds and spray systems, as well as respirators, keeps workers in compliance without having to take air samples and other more complicated compliance measures.
Videos on the OSHA website demonstrate how to comply with Table 1 standards while using these devices:
OSHA also posted the 5-minute video below providing an overview of the silica rules. The video explains what silica is, how it enters workers’ lungs and the dangers it causes, such as silicosis, which permanently scars lungs, as well as lung cancer and COPD.
Safety officers and others can also download an OSHA Power Point presentation they can show employees to familiarize them with the rules. The sample training presentation is designed to help employers and instructors train employees for the construction standards. The presentation can be customized to each workplace.
And finally, OSHA laid out a series of 53 frequently asked questions about silica compliance. The questions and answers broach such topics as exposure control methods, housekeeping, written exposure-control plans, medical surveillance, employee training and recordkeeping.