A Complete Guide to Silica! How Dangerous is it?
What is Silica?
Silica is a very common mineral found in the earth’s crust and is commonly referred to as quartz.
Materials that contain silica include:
Is Silica Safe?
Silica is defined by The Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) as a lung carcinogen, which causes serious lung problems. Cutting, grinding, chipping, drilling, and crushing stones can create dust that contains tiny crystalline silica particles.
Workers can inhale small crystalline silica, which can be very dangerous to their health. It only takes breathing in a tiny amount of silica dust to create a health hazard. Anyone working with silica should have knowledge of silica dust safety!
Silica-related diseases include:
- Lung Cancer
- Silicosis – Silicosis is a very dangerous lung disease that is incurable and can lead to disability and death!
- Kidney Disease
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Who should get Silica Training?
Silica training requirements include more than two million workers across The United States exposed to silica at work every day! Silica has several health hazards. Anyone that works around or with silica should get Silica Safety Training to protect themselves!
Jobs were exposure to Silica is high:
- Jewelry production
- Oil and gas operations
- Ready-mix concrete
- Abrasive blasting
- Cutting/Sawing/Drilling of any of the rocks mentioned above
- Quarry work
- Construction work
OSHA 29 CFR 1926.1153
The standard 29 CFR 1926.2253 was created by OSHA to protect workers exposed to silica at work. Employers must provide control methods to reduce silica dust and keep them under permissible exposure limits. Some control methods include using water to reduce dust or having a dust collection system.
Any worker using tools that create silica dust are required to wear a respirator if they are working for more than 4 hours or if they are working inside. The respirator must have an assigned protection factor of at least 10 and a face-filtering facepiece covering the mouth and nose.
What else does OSHA 29 1926.1153 require?
All employers that fall under this standard and work with or around silica must have:
- A written exposure control plan: Methods to protect workers and a plan on what to do in case of high exposure.
- Designate a competent person: The competent person implements the written exposure control plan.
- Restrict housekeeping practices that expose workers to silica.
- Offer medical exams: Workers that wear a respirator more than 30 days a year are required to have chest X-rays and lung function tests every three years.
- Training: All workers working with or around silica dust must receive proper training to keep them safe.
- Keep records: Records of silica exposures and medical exams must be kept on-site at all times.
OSHA Silica Final Rule:
In 2006 The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) changed the permissible exposure limit for silica, creating the final rule. The new rule set the new permissible limit at 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air (50 μg/m3) as an 8-hour weighted average.
The OSHA Silica Final Rule provides new requirements for:
- Exposure assessment
- Methods of controlling exposure
- Respiratory protection
- Medical surveillance
- Hazard communications
If you want more information about Silica, visit OSHA
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