OSHA has put a new regulation to start being effective June 23rd, 2016, which means that major changes must start happening in the construction industry. The rule was put into effect because of the recognition of sickness being caused by Silica dust. This regulation is projected to save 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year once it is fully regulated.
This has a huge impact on the construction industry. For example, when construction workers are remodeling roads, drilling will release Silica into the air. This has not only been a concern for workers, but also for pedestrians that come in contact with Silica from being around the designated area. There are ways to protect workers from being exposed to this chemical with machines such as vacuums, but OSHA has decided to complete regulate the cause in hopes to one day be completely Silica-free. Occupants have a few years to complete comply with the new regulation. This standard shall become effective June 23, 2016, all obligation of the standard shall become effective June 23, 2017, except requirements for sample analysis, and requirements for sample analysis become effective June 23, 2018.
To make sure that your designated work space is not contaminated with Silica, an environmental consultant will test the area to see if there is harm. The employer shall perform initial monitoring, on a representative number of employees, to assess the 8-hour TWA exposure for each employee on the basis of one or more personal breathing zone air samples that reflect the exposures of employees on each shift, for each job classification, in each work area. If exposure monitoring is below the action level, then employer may discontinue monitoring for those employees. If employees exposure level are above the action level but below the PEL then employer shall repeat monitoring within six months of initial monitoring.
If employees exposure level are above the PEL then employer shall repeat monitoring within three months. If employee exposure level on follow up monitoring indicate employee exposure level below the action level, then employer repeat such monitoring within six months of the most recent monitoring until two consecutive monitoring, taken seven or more days apart, are below the action level, then the employer may discontinue monitoring. Employer shall repeat exposure monitoring whenever there is change in the production, process, control equipment, personnel or work practices that may reasonably be expected to result in exposure above the action level.
This tedious procedure is necessary for creating a safer environment for not only our current occupants, but also for the future of construction. Eventually traces of Silica will be unlikely and many lives will be saved because of it.