**** OSHA UPDATE 4/7/2017 – New OSHA Deadline is September 23, 2017 for Silica Dust Compliance as there was a 90 day extension added.
As the deadline for implementation of OSHA’s new Silica Dust Rule changes grows ever closer (June 23rd, 2017) the question “how do you know if you are ready” is a growing concern. We have teamed up with the safety consultants from Safex to get some more information on the new Silica Dust Rules and other common safety questions for the jobsite. We will be doing a video series “On the Job Safety Tips with Safex” and if you’ve got any topics you’d like us to address in the future please suggest a topic here or like someone else’s idea if it’s already there. Below are just a few of the questions we’ve been hearing on the silica dust topic.
How do you know if you are ready? This is the top question people are asking (or probably should be asking) so we asked the safety consultants and they recommended the first step is to do an assessment of your company. Basically outfit several of your guys, working around silica dust with monitoring pumps that’ll sample air throughout the day to determine what their current exposure ratings are. From there you can do several things training, plans and purchase equipment to control exposure. The idea would be to continue to work towards controlling the exposure until the levels are lower than the OSHA guidelines. If you cannot get the levels below OSHA guidelines before June 23, 2017 you’ll need to create a plan which can involve respirators for all employees and periodic medical exams which you will definitely need to work with safety professionals in those cases. With solutions available and proper procedures in place most silica dust related jobs should be able to complete while meeting the new OSHA guidelines.
If we use special tools to control dust do we still need an assessment? There are lots of tasks competed everyday on jobsites that might expose your crew to silica dust. Sweeping the floors or emptying a trash will kick up silica dust that may exceeds the standards. If you’re guys are grinding concrete with a fully enclosed system but then dump that canister of collected dust into the trash can making a cloud of silca dust they are still exposed to silica dust and possibly get fined. Certainly getting the right tools for collecting silica dust are very important and we have faith the manufacturers are building tools that will meet the guidelines but that might not be the whole story.
Do we need special silca dust classes or training? An OSHA fine for any infraction can be up to $12,471 for first violation and up to $124,709 for repeat offenses, so certainly not something you can just avoid. There are no required classes for silica dust but education is certainly strongly encouraged by just about everyone. There are many training classes for the topic (and more coming in early 2017), in our area the Builders Exchange offers classes to members, provided by SafeX who also offers their own courses on the topic. For some companies it might make more sense to have people come out for onsite for training for their staff. Seems like a pretty high price to pay to not be investing some time and energy now into getting prepared.
WARNING!!! We are not experts in safety or silica dust training, we simply want to raise awareness on jobsite safety topics by sharing facts, data and concerns. Please consult a safety professional before implementing any safety strategies and visit OHSA.gov to learn more. Special thanks to SafeX, we certainly learned a lot just talking with Dianne for just a short time. We look forward to working together to hopefully answer more of your questions in the future.