Silica Dust Protection: What To Do When Table 1 Methods Don’t Fit
The OSHA regulation outlining the requirements for exposure to respirable silica dust has been in place since 2017. But not every organization has taken the steps necessary to meet the guidelines for silica dust protection. Every company that works with concrete, stone or other masonry materials needs to get on the stick with meeting the OSHA requirements.
As you might imagine, the OSHA guidelines provide a general framework for how to go about avoiding exposure to respirable silica dust, but questions always spring up. We took a few minutes to talk to Jim Bohn from the Bosch Power Tool Corporation about some of the possible ambiguity surrounding these regulations. For this article, we’re looking at silica dust protection in small areas – those too small to use Table 1’s recommendations.
Silica Dust Protection In a Small Area Where a Dust Suction Attachment Won’t Fit
OSHA’s regulations demand that you control silica dust exposure no matter how inconvenient your workspace makes it. If you work in an environment where your power tool system is too big to adequately provide silica dust protection, then Table 1 guidelines won’t be enough.
At that point, Paragraph D will take effect – Objective Data.
This requires you to conduct independent testing with specific documentation on exposure levels, as well as what steps a worker must take to stay below the PEL (0.5mg/m3: 50 micrograms per cubic meter) over a time-weighted eight-hour day. In other words, you need specific tools, accessories, and methods that you can prove keep your crew under the limit.
The good news is that manufacturers like Bosch are working towards having more objective data testing complete ahead of time to save you the work. What they already have is freely available on their website.
But for those applications that don’t have any objective data currently available, proving your silica dust protection methods are compliant is your responsibility.
If the objective data route fails you, one more method is available. You’ll need to use the Scheduled Air Monitoring to show exactly how much dust your crew gets exposed to.
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Special thanks to Jim Bohn, Director of Strategic Development – North America, Robert Bosch Tool Corporation for providing input and feedback on this article. Jim Bohn is responsible for driving the creation and rollout of Bosch power tool products in the U.S. and Canada, In addition, he assists the company’s sales organization in providing the products, services, and training programs to meet the needs of construction professionals.