The original deadline for issuing OSHA fines was June 23rd however with that deadline very near the amount of unanswered questions and many tasks that still not having good solutions OSHA has announced everyone will get an additional 90 days before fines will begin. (OHSA full press release) This is good news, manufacturers of solutions to control silica dust are just now finishing testing, releasing products and as they come out are seeing immediate back orders. Training thousands and thousands of effected workers is also not an easy task and will take some time, even with the extra 90 days it will be a challenge.
New Tools & Solutions Are Coming
One of the challenges tool manufacturers are facing is that Table 1 was written for the solutions available at the time, prior to June 2016, as new technology gets introduced it either needs to comply with Table 1 or prove (in accordance to 29 CFR 1926.1153(d)(2)(ii) standard) that these new solution will keep workers as safe with permissible exposure levels (PEL) below 50 µg/m3 over an 8 hour work day calculated with Time Weighted Average (TWA). Certainly for manufacturers using Table 1 is the easier option as proving their new technology can meet the standards requires showing it with Objective Data Testing. If they can do so then users can rely on the backing of big name manufacturers if OSHA should question their silca practices. As new inventions/solutions come online perhaps Table 1 will get updated however it does not look like that will happen before the initial deadline.
Here are some examples from Makita Objective Data Testing and Milwaukee Objective Data Testing. Both examples are of the HEPA filters attached to SDS-Plus drills that collect the dust while you drill. Small diameter drilling does not generate a large amount of dust and using an integrated vac systems certainly makes a huge difference. Why these types of units don’t meet OSHA Table 1 for vacuums is not filtration, as they are HEPA rated but in the filter cleaning mechanism (neither have integrated filter cleaning). As a rule for all vacuums in Table 1 automatic filter cleaning makes a ton of sense, see the video below to learn more, you will find the feature on most dust extraction vacs from Pulse-Bac, Makita, Bosch, Metabo, CS Unitec and others. In drilling applications there is less silica dust generated (as compared to cutting & grinding applications) it would appear according to Objective Data Testing these tasks can be performed safely for these specifc tools without the auto-clean feature. From a safety aspect integrating all components into a single tool also removes cords, hoses and other tripping hazards as well as makes tie offs easier for working at heights.
There are even more new tools & solutions coming very soon but those are still in testing either to meet Objective Data Testing standards or to comply with Table 1. The cycle from product development from concept to thousands on the shelves normally takes several years, these large manufacturers have narrowed that down to under 12 months which is very impressive. A 90 days extension to September 23, 2017 will allow some exciting new innovations to hit the market and allow time for users to get them and properly train users. Expect to see some more innovations continue to hit the market shortly!
For those users in Central Ohio, there is a Silica Awareness Event Co-Hosted by Ohio Power Tool and Safex on Wednesday April 26th (7:30-10:00+ am) which will cover some of the basics of Silica on the Jobsite as well as feature products and on-hands demo from Metabo, Bosch, Milwaukee, Makita, CS Unitec, Diamond Products and others. Space is limited please contact Zach at 800-224-4424 to register.