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OSHA Announces Final Rule to Protect Workers Exposed to Silica Dust

By Matt Wastradowski

OSHA recently took steps to better protect employees exposed to silica dust.

Silica is a basic component of soil, sand, and other minerals. Yet when the common material is raised into the air as respirable dust, it can have devastating impacts on those exposed to it, including lung cancer, kidney disease, and other health maladies. OSHA took steps to save an estimated 600 lives a year by announcing in March 2016 a rule to improve protections for employees exposed to silica dust.

The final rule protects workers by reducing the acceptable exposure limit for crystalline silica; requiring employers to limit exposure and provide respiratory protection when necessary; and providing a table of specific practices that can help facilities comply, without having to monitor exposures.

Roughly two million U.S. workers are exposed to respirable silica dust every year; most of those employees are exposed when they chip, cut, and drill silica-containing material. Workers in industries such as construction, concrete work, and glass operations are especially susceptible to the silica dust.

Respiratory protection was the fourth most common OSHA violation in 2015, the fifth consecutive year it’s held that distinction. Learn more about OSHA’s top 10 violations and how you can protect your employees.

Graphic Products also carries a variety of respiratory protection products to protect against silica, including respirators, accessories, cartridges, and more.