The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released comprehensive regulations affecting the exposure of individuals to crystalline silica found in concrete and masonry products. The rules fall into two major categories: construction and general industry. General industry regulations take effect in June 2018 and cover a wide range of industries and applications, including the production of masonry and concrete products.
As a manufacturer of these types of products, Concrete Solutions will be fully complying with the new OSHA rules, so we’d like our customers to know what it all means and how it will affect what we do and how we do it.
First of all, what is crystalline silica? Silica is a common mineral found in almost every type of rock and used extensively as a filler in masonry and concrete, including pre-cast concrete products. It exists in both crystalline and non-crystalline forms, crystalline being extremely hard and chemically inert, making it valuable for a variety of industrial uses. Respirable crystalline silica is the respirable dust fraction of crystalline silica which enters the body by inhalation and has been linked to various illnesses.
The new OSHA rules require companies using silica to closely monitor and document exposure to it and be able to prove that any silica exposure is below certain levels. Requirements to ensure worker safety include:
- Dust controls to protect workers from unacceptable levels of exposure
- Respirators when exposure exceeds permissible exposure levels (PEL)
- Warning signs posted for areas where exposures above the PEL are possible
- Medical exams offered to workers every 3 years exposed to silica above the PEL for 30 or more days per year
To help keep our workers safe we will also be taking a number of other actions, including:
- Implementing an Exposure Control Plan that identifies sources of possible exposure and the methods we’ll use to control it
- Modifying cleaning practices to eliminate dry sweeping and brushing as well as some uses of compressed air and other practices that can release respirable silica dust into the air
- Training to educate workers about respirable silica and exposure provide medical information
- Enhanced recordkeeping to better monitor silica exposure
At Concrete Solutions, our employees come first. We’re focused on providing the best workplace environment possible to produce the best masonry and concrete products possible.