Earlier this year, OSHA (the Occupational Health and Safety Administration) announced its “final rule” regarding respirable crystalline silica. In the works since 2013, the new rule reduces the permissible exposure limit (or PEL) for workers in a number of industries where workers are frequently exposed to respirable crystalline silica.
A Decades-Late Update
Crystalline silica is a common mineral that is one of the building blocks of materials such as rock/stone, sand, concrete, brick, and mortar. Exposure to this substance is common in workplace operations that involve the cutting, drilling, crushing, and handling of these materials. This includes those found in construction, glass manufacturing, sand blasting, concrete production, and other industrial processes, as well as other, less obvious applications, such as dental laboratories and jewelry production.
For their part, OSHA admits that the dangers of respirable crystalline silica have been well known for more than 80 years. In their official overview of the final rule, the organization states that “Workers who inhale very small crystalline silica particles are at increased risk of developing serious—and often deadly—silica-related diseases” including silicosis (an incurable and sometimes fatal lung disease), lung cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and kidney disease. OSHA notes that approximately 2.3 million Americans are exposed to silica at work each year.
OSHA’s current PELs for the substance have not been updated since the 1960s, however, and evidence gathered in the decades since shows that the current exposure limits do not adequately protect worker health. “[Since] the current exposure limits were adopted,” OSHA’s overview states, “respirable crystalline silica exposure has been found to cause lung cancer and kidney disease at the levels currently permitted.” Once the full effects of the rule are implemented, the new standards are expected to save more than 600 lives and prevent over 900 cases of silicosis annually.
Nol-Tec Has the Compliance Solution You Need
Under OSHA’s new rule, employers whose workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica are required to, among other measures, implement controls and work practices to limit employee exposure to silica dust.
The best and most effective solution for limiting exposure to harmful dust is to limit the creation of that dust. Nol-Tec Systems offers complete, high efficiency, customizable material handling solutions that will minimize breakage of your materials and significantly reduce dust.
To further limit workers’ exposure to dust, our dense and dilute phase pneumatic conveying systems are fully enclosed to prevent dust from escaping into your facility’s atmosphere.
We will conduct on-site evaluations of your processes, as needed, and conduct small-scale trials in our testing lab—using the actual materials you work with—to create a particulate control solution that provides efficient and effective protection against respirable crystalline silica exposure.
OSHA’s ruling gives employers one to five years to get their safety solutions in place, depending on the size of the company and their specific processes. Five years may seem like a long time, but, as there are thousands of employers across the country that will be working to meet the new standards, solutions providers will be booked up fast, and likely far into the future.
You don’t want to be stuck on a waiting list when the time for your inspection rolls around—contact Nol-Tec today to get started on the respirable crystalline silica solution you and your employees need.