Understanding OSHA’s New Silica Rule
With the new OSHA Silica exam now in place, any contractor who create crystalline silica dust (work with concrete, stone, or brick) must pass it and meet strict standards regarding the dust’s inhalation. As an employer you are responsible for your employees’ health here. This is because anyone who inhales silica dust is at risk of developing silicosis – a lung disease that can be fatal. They may also develop kidney disease, lung cancer, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Understanding the New OSHA Silica Law
In the past, there’s been an attempt at putting OSHA silica standards in place. This dates back to 1971 when OSHA was first established by the Department of Labor because they started studying silica in the 1930s. According to today’s OSHA silica exam requirements, employees can only inhale 50 micrograms per cubic meter in 8 hours. Failure to comply with this standard will result in a fine of $12,675 – $126,749 depending on the seriousness of the violation.
Implementing the New OSHA Silica Standard Exam
Some people argue that implementation will cost a lot of money due to technological limitations and that measuring this exposure limit is almost impossible. However, this is not the only part of the examinations required in the OSHA silica standard you must adhere to.
You must also:
- Write a plan explaining how you will control the exposure
- Designate who will implement your plan and record silica exposure and any employees’ medical treatment due to such exposure
- Provide employees who wear a respirator for at least 30 days because they are exposed to silica dust a medical exam including lung-function tests and chest X-rays every three years
- Train all employees on good housekeeping practices to control silica (e.g. wearing respirators, using a wet saw to wet the work area, using a vacuum to reduce the dust’s volume)
Remember, only those companies whose silica exposure is about 25 micrograms must adhere to this policy.