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UPDATED: When Dust Is Not Just Dust: New silica guidelines you need to know now

* UPDATE: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has now delayed enforcement of this new standard to begin on September 23, 2017 as opposed to the original date of June 23, 2017.  

Silica is the second most common mineral in the crust of the earth.  Silica can be found in materials like sand, concrete, brick, block, stone and mortar. Overexposure to dust that contains crystalline silica can cause scar tissue to form in the lungs, which reduces the lungs ability to function. The resulting disease is called Silicosis.  It is an incurable lung disease that sometimes causes bronchitis and puts victims at increased risk of tuberculosis, and may lead to lung cancer.

All this disease, from breathing in dust that is not just dust.

The hazards of breathing crystalline silica have been known by stone cutters and quarrymen for eons. In the 1700’s Bernardino Ramazzini (considered the father of occupational medicine) wrote about stone cutter “maladies” of cough, asthmatic afflictions, and consumption resulting from breathing in rough, sharp and jagged splinters of stone. 

In 1938, the US Secretary of Labor started the “Stop Silicosis” campaign after hundreds of workers died from silicosis while working on construction of the Gauley Bridge tunnel. 

In the 1990’s, the Department of Labor recognized that worker exposure to crystalline silica still caused a significant health hazard and once again rolled out a campaign to raise awareness and highlight safe work practices “It’s Just Not Dust”.  The source of exposure to airborne crystalline silica today is not predominately in tunnel construction, it occurs with the increased use of dry cutting, drilling and grinding of concrete and masonry material in construction along with the popularity of stone surfaces in residential and commercial buildings.

In 2016 OSHA published a detailed new standard for OSHA’s new standard for Crystalline Silica. And now compliance dates are approaching with June 23, 2017 for the Construction Industry and most of General Industry scheduled for June 23, 2018.

How are you set for June 23, 2017 compliance with the Construction Industry requirements your business must follow in order to protect your employees against the effects of crystalline silica.

Here are six questions to ask:

  1. Are your site work protocols and equipment aligned with the new “Safe Methods for Working with Silica” issued by OSHA?
  2. Are you confident any recently performed a worker exposure to crystalline silica measurements reflect the new exposure control methods issued by OSHA in regulation §1926.1153 Respirable crystalline silica.
  3. Do you have a respirator program for your employees wearing respirators (even dust masks?)
  4. Have your employees wearing respirators been medically cleared to wear these respirators?
  5. Are your employees receiving training about the dangers of crystalline silica?
  6. Do you have records of your training?

If you answered no to any of these question and your employees are potentially exposed to crystalline silica, you may not be in compliance the latest OSHA standards.  Contact Emilcott today or check out our full compliance checklist.  We offer comprehensive solutions to:

  • Write programs customized to your business that comply with the OSHA standard
  • Provide training on using the methods recommended by OSHA in specified exposure control methods
  • Help you meet the requirements on communicating the hazards of silica to be in compliance with OSHA hazard communication regulations
  • Train your employees at their work site on your schedule
  • Provide on site exposure assessments for silica.

Mid-Year Regulatory Submission Reminder

Just as we all take a deep breath after getting the CRTK submissions on March 1 — now it is time to get started pulling together the information for the next round of submissions.  We’ve pulled together our Spring and Summer submission list.  Similar to our 1Q2016 Regulatory Submission Reminder, we detail information about the regulations that require submissions from mid-April through September 2016 along with specific dates to help you ensure that everything is submitted on time! 


Hospital Surfaces Host for the Ebola Virus?

The Ebola virus can live on surfaces in hospitals for almost two weeks, a brand new study indicates. Researchers examined how long the Ebola virus could survive on plastic, stainless steel and Tyvek, a material used in the personal protective suits used for Ebola. In general, the virus survived on surfaces for a longer time when in the climate-controlled conditions rather than in the West African surroundings, the study found. The longest the virus managed to survive in the tropical states of the West African environment was three days, on Tyvek.


The National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction is May 4-15, 2015

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, and as the statistics show, hundreds of workers die each year and thousands more suffer debilitating injuries. Still, death because of improper fall protection is one of the the most frequently cited violations from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. To raise awareness of the severity of this common construction site hazard, thousands of companies and much more than a million workers across the country joined OSHA in 2014 for a weeklong National Safety Stand Down to Prevent Falls in Construction.  This year’s Safety Stand Down is being held from May 4-15, 2015.


Emilcott introduces SHARP in April 2015

As of April 1, 2015, Emilcott will begin offering a new service to small businesses everywhere. These Safety Health and Regulatory Programs, also known as SHARP, are written health and safety plans that will be offered to clients to assist them reach their safety goals and meet regulatory compliance standards. This subscription based health and safety program is flexible, scalable, affordable and will be 100% customized for each and every client.


Fit Testing Gone Mobile

It’s that time of year again, all your employees need their annual fit tests. For many companies this can be a daunting task that involves weeks of scheduling and ultimately pulling employees out of the field, missing valuable work time.


NIOSH Publication Suitable for all Industries with Material Handling

This past November, NIOSH released an illustrated guide aimed at preventing musculoskeletal disorders and injuries in the retail industry. The eighteen page guide is specifically directed to preventing material handling injuries in the grocery sector—illustrating and outlining ways and techniques to practice safe lifting and pulling methods to avoid.