OSHA Silica Dust Permissible Exposure Limit News & Opinion

OSHA Silica Dust Permissible Exposure Limit – UPDATED


Updated on April 6, 2017 – OSHA has just announced that the planned enforcement of the new regulations has been moved from June 23, 2017, to September 23, 2017. This gives businesses another 3 months of (wait for it) breathing room before you have to be in compliance.

Quick Article Summary

  • New compliance date September 23, 2017
  • PEL reduced from 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air over an 8-hour shift to 50 micrograms
  • Over 620,000 construction workers exposed to more than the 50 mg limit

In 2016, OSHA updated the respirable crystalline silica Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) affecting the construction, manufacturing, and fracking industries. The PEL had been an average of 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air over an 8-hour shift. The 2016 OSHA Silica Dust Permissible Exposure Limit reduces that average exposure limit to 50 micrograms per cubic meter. There are at least 1.86 million construction workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica with an estimated one-third exposed to more than 50 micrograms per cubic meter.

OSHA Silica Dust Permissible Exposure Limit Being Reduced for 2016

In 2016, OSHA updated the respirable crystalline silica Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) affecting the construction, manufacturing, and fracking industries. The PEL had been an average of 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air over an 8-hour shift. The 2016 OSHA Silica Dust Permissible Exposure Limit reduces that average exposure limit to 50 micrograms per cubic meter. There are at least 1.86 million construction workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica with an estimated one-third exposed to more than 50 micrograms per cubic meter.

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Crystalline quartz, the most common form of silica, is a component of sand, stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar. One of the oldest known workplace hazards is silica dust inhalation. Chipping, cutting, drilling, and grinding materials that contain crystalline silica releases respirable crystalline silica particles into the air. The dust penetrates the lungs, stomach, and bones and results in silicosis and cancer. It’s also hazardous to inhale wood dust.

OSHA's New Silica Dust Permissible Exposure Limit

OSHA Silica Dust Permissible Exposure Limit: Prevention and Control

There are several ways to prevent dust particle inhalation. Protective respirators and dust masks prevent direct inhalation. Don’t eat in areas where the dust could settle and don’t expose food or tobacco products to dust. Be sure to wash hands and face after dust exposure before eating. It’s also wise to park in areas where dust can’t settle on vehicles.

Equipment can also limit dust exposure. Bosch (who put together the infographics for this article) offers Speed Clean Bits as part of a comprehensive system that reduces dust while producing precise, clean holes in concrete. The system, which also includes dust vacuums, dust shrouds, and dust collection attachments, reduces silica dust in construction zones.

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The Bottom Line

The 2016 OSHA Silica Dust Permissible Exposure Limit reduces silica dust exposure from 250 to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Expect new tools and accessories, like Bosch’s Speed Clean Bits, and preventative measures to make their way to safety managers and job sites soon.

If OSHA’s new silica dust permissible exposure limit affects your industry, please be sure to take the required steps to reduce the chances of crystalline silica dust inhalation. If you’re a Pro, how do you manage dust for you and your crew? Tell us about it in the comments below—or join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

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C StMBS

So this study has been in the works for 20 years, now people want to make it political?

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How many trump supporters are going to effected by this.