Silica Exposure in the Workplace
OSHA made a final rule on making safety standards for employees exposed to silica or silicon dioxide in the workplace. This material is made as a byproduct of multiple industrial processes like metalcasting. Exposure could case silicosis, lung cancer, respiratory diseases and kidney disease.
This new rule should subside lung cancer, silicosis, chronic disease and kidney issues. It is said the new rule will save 600 lives per years. Along with prevention of death, the rule will prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis annually and would provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion per year.
According to studies done by OSHA, estimated 2.3 million men and women are exposed to crystalline silica in the workplace. The new rule will effect more than foundries making molds. Some of these include:
- Sand Blasting
- Construction Operations
- Oil and natural gas exploration
The employees can have limited exposure through available equipment designed to protect against exposure or water to keep dust from entering the air or vents. OSHA says it will reduce the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an eight hour shift. The workplace will also have to provide respiratory protection, limit access to high exposed areas, train workers and provide medical exams to high exposed workers.
Two compliance standards were issued. One for construction industry starting on June 23, 2017 and the other is general industry and maritime businesses starting on June 23, 2018. OHSA will allow time for medical exams, installment of dust controls and employers must offer medical surveillance to employees exposed to high levels of material.
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