In 2016, OSHA issued a new silica dust rule for exposure. Now the clock is ticking for industries to achieve compliance. The construction industry has less than six months to get there. For general industry, you have about a year and a half, which goes by fast when it comes to getting into compliance with an OSHA regulation.
The silica dust rule lowered the exposure limit to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour day. This limit has been recommended by NIOSH and other health groups for decades. It is expected to save many lives by preventing silicosis, the lung disease caused by breathing silica dust.
WHAT’S THE DEADLINE FOR COMPLIANCE?
The construction industry is required to be in compliance by June 23, 2017. For general industry, the deadline is June 23, 2018.
This is also the deadline for most fracking processes, although they will have extra time to work out engineering controls. This extended deadline for engineering controls, such as dust collection systems or changes in their processes, exists because OSHA considers these methods to be the best and most effective.
Considering that OSHA had been issuing fines and strongly enforcing the previous silica dust rule, it should be expected that they will enforce the new rule as well. If you were near or above the limit before, you’re going to be drastically over the limit now unless you take steps to control silica dust exposure.
It’s easy to look at June 2018 as being a long way away, especially when you have more urgent challenges to deal with right now. However, getting into compliance with the silica dust rule may take time. Engineering controls, such as dust collectors, often require researching products and taking bids. Once a product is chosen, there’s the timeline for building and installing your system. There is also the time required to run the system, work out the bugs, and make sure your silica dust levels are now under control.
IS YOUR INDUSTRY AFFECTED?
The construction industry will get hit with the new limits first, so it’s expected to be a major target for enforcement. However, there are a lot of activities that fall under general industry and get hit in 2018. These include:
- Clay, brick, and concrete production
- Foundries and refractories
- Landscaping and renovating
- Stone products (including natural and artificial stone for countertops and other surfaces)
- Abrasive blasting (in manufacturing and on construction or renovation sites)
- Hydraulic fracking
IS A DUST COLLECTOR THE RIGHT SOLUTION FOR YOU?
A dust collection system like the CMAXX, BRF Baghouse, or SHADOW will be most effective in applications like foundries, stone and clay manufacturing processes, and abrasive blasting. For these applications, a dust collector may be the best way to achieve compliance with the silica dust rule.
One area that is expected to be a major target for OSHA is the hydraulic fracking industry. This is a relatively new industry, and massive amounts of silica are moved around these sites every day. Imperial Systems has unique solutions for the fracking industry, especially for sand-moving equipment and vehicles. This industry faces particular challenges in reaching compliance with the new silica dust rule.