OSHA Proposes Silica Rule for Construction

After decades of discussion and bureaucratic red tape, OSHA finally issued a proposed standard to protect workers from silica on August 23, 2013. Occurring naturally as sand or quartz, silica is commonly used in a variety of industrial settings. It is a key component of concrete, and its dust is a long-recognized hazard for construction workers. When inhaled, it can cause silicosis, a progressive lung disease. In 1997, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) definitively labeled silica a cancer-causing agent. For decades, OSHA has maintained an exposure limit for silica, but it is way too high, out of date and uses an obsolete measurement method.

The proposed rule would reduce the allowable exposure limit to about one-fifth of what is currently allowed, but more importantly, OSHA is proposing a task-based control standard (as it has done with lead and asbestos) wherein certain operations known to produce high exposures will require the use of wet methods or local ventilation. These controls are known to significantly reduce exposures.

Source : Life Lines online, Sept. 2013, Vol. 10, No. 4.http://www.lhsfna.org/index.cfm?objectID=BB569257-C16A-A16E-21DB23B96292D6AF

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