Silica Air Testing (OSHA)
Silica Air Testing for OSHA
Compliance testing for contractors now may include silica air testing. Thanks to the new OSHA standard that began in September, 2017, enforcement fees in 10’s and 100’s of thousands is getting the construction industry’s attention. This new OSHA rule represents a significant change in how contractors will interact with stone, tile, asphalt and concrete.
Air Testing for Silica – Requirements
Previously the Permissible Exposure Level (PEL) for respirable silica was 100 µg/m3 for an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA). The new (2017-09) OSHA Silica standard establishes an 8-hr TWA PEL of 50 µg/m3, half the old PEL, so it’s no wonder contractors are concerned and calling for silica air testing.
According to OSHA, those who inhale very small crystalline silica particles are at increased risk of harmful diseases, including:
- Silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death;
- Lung cancer;
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); and
- Kidney disease.
This means that every road crew you see should be using different protocols than just two months ago. We should start seeing more respirators on street crews.
Silica Air Testing – 2017 OSHA Rule
The new standard requires employers to perform air quality testing for silica.
The OSHA Silica Testing standard requires employers to:
- Quantify concentrations of silica that workers are exposed through air quality testing.
- Set an action level of 25 μg/m3 (micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air), averaged over an 8-hr day.
- Protect workers from respirable crystalline silica exposures above the permissible exposure limit of 50 μg/m3, averaged over an 8-hr day.
- Use dust controls to protect workers from silica exposures above the PEL.
- Provide respirators to workers when dust controls cannot limit exposures to the PEL.