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How to Comply with OSHA’s Silica Dust Standard

Are you staying safe from silica?

Silica, also known as respirable crystalline dust, is a mineral found in construction materials such as sand, stone, concrete, brick and mortar. When drilling or cutting during projects, silica dust particles are released into the air and can be harmful to you and your workers’ short- and long-term health.

Thus, it’s important to know the facts about silica-related exposure.

To help our customers better understand the most recent regulations, as established by The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the spring of 2016, Hedberg Supply welcomed Peter Kuzj as a Master Class speaker. An Industrial Hygienist from the Department of Labor and Industry, Kuzj discussed how landscape contractors and home builders are expected to comply with OSHA’s silica dust regulations while working on the jobsite.

As a contractor, builder or construction worker, here’s what you need to stay clear of stress from silica.

Data That Proves Compliance

The first piece of information you need is data that proves compliance.

If an OSHA representative shows up at the jobsite and questions your active silica exposure level, it’s required that you have the up-to-date documentation they’re looking for. Without it, you will be issued a fine unless you have been exposed to less than 25 μg/m3 (micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air).

So, how do you ensure your active silica exposure level meets OSHA standards on the spot?

We recommend you have that data figured out prior to being assessed, and so does OSHA. The best way to avoid having an active silica level over the legal limit is to have a professional Industrial Hygienist, such as Peter Kuzj, make a visit to your jobsite and run silica tests using your materials and equipment.

After all, numbers don’t lie. And if you make them available, neither can you.

Written Exposure Control Plan

Your written exposure control plan must explain what you do and how you do it.

It requires specific documentation of the everyday duties your company conducts on the jobsite, including the exact amount of silica your workers are being exposed to when completing each task.

The control plan needs to also explain what actions are being taken to control silica exposure.

This is where the competent person requirement comes in. OSHA’s silica standard states that each company must elect a competent person; an employee who oversees silica-related tasks and ensures regular measures are being taken to protect workers. When questioned by an OSHA official, the competent person is the designated individual who is required to explain why things are being done the way they are as well as how safety procedures are being actively enforced on the jobsite.

We recommend that your competent person write the control plan because he or she is the individual who needs to know it best. It’s also beneficial to have an Industrial Hygienist look over your control plan to guarantee that your company is in compliance with the OSHA silica standard in every facet.

Historical and Medical Records

When it comes to OSHA, health and safety come first.

The final segment of the silica standard requires your business to communicate to employees how hazardous regular silica exposure can be while also providing them with preventative training.

Your company must issue the following information to OSHA:

  1. Air monitoring data that details all silica exposure
  2. Up-to-date medical records for active employees
  3. Documentation for respirators where applicable

If employees are exposed to silica more than 30 days per year, it’s required that they wear a respirator while on the jobsite. In addition, your company must offer physical medical exams every three years.

The control plan must include records of all of the above information.

If you have questions about silica or how to be in compliance with the current OSHA standard, visit OSHA’s FAQ page, email osha.consultation@state.mn.us or call 1-800-657-3776.   

Watch our Silica Master Class Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3REUAfljGQ&t=121s

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