OSHA silica dust exposure limits have 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 meet OSHA requirements. But what happens when Table 1 methods don’t exist? That’s when Silica Dust Exposure Objective Test Data comes into play.
OSHA guidelines provide a general framework for how to go about avoiding exposure to respirable silica dust. Still, questions always spring up. We took a few minutes to talk to Jim Bohn from the Bosch Power Tool Corporation. We talked about some of the possible ambiguities surrounding these regulations. For this article, we’re looking at when silica dust exposure objective test data comes into play when satisfying OSHA regulations. This is necessary if Table 1 doesn’t cover your exact application.
Silica Dust Protection 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, 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. It also outlines 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 prove you can keep your crew under the limits.
Silica Dust Exposure Objective Data to the Rescue
The good news is that manufacturers like Bosch are working towards having more objective data testing complete ahead of time. This should save you the work of doing it yourself. 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.