The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently published new educational materials designed to help construction employers control exposure to airborne crystalline silica at construction sites. The 7 new fact sheets provide information on how to control the risks associated with silica exposure while working with grinders, angle grinders, jackhammers, rotary hammers, stationary and handheld masonry saws, and vehicle mounted drilling rigs.
The facts sheets are part of a push by OSHA to focus on silica exposure, which can cause silicosis or even lung cancer. In addition, OSHA is proposing a new rule that would decrease permissible exposure levels for workers and set new requirements on engineering controls and regulated areas. Large agreement seems to exist in the industry that a comprehensive standard for exposure monitoring, medical surveillance, and worker training on the issue is needed. OSHA has classified the proposed rule as high priority and will consider it in May of this year with an eye to adopting it shortly thereafter.