26. Apr 2017

Crystalline Silica on Demolition Sites

Last year, OSHA established new regulations to address health issues that may arise from exposure to crystalline silica. The Exposure to Respirable Crystalline rule is designed to reduce the exposure to crystalline silica by limiting it to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air for every eight-hour shift. This new regulation will have an impact on the demolition industry as well as construction in general.

Demolition and Crystalline Silica

This change in the silica rule represents a decrease in the previous maximum exposure and is one-fifth the previous permissible exposure limit (PEL). The last PEL of 100 micrograms per cubic meter of air was set in 1971, and OSHA considered that standard to be outdated.

A coalition of trade associations opposed the proposed change in regulations; however, OSHA prevailed. The construction industry has until June 23, 2017 to fully comply with the new rules. The hydraulic, maritime, and general industries have until June 23, 2018. Fracking has until June 23, 2021.

The OSHA new crystalline rule should significantly reduce silica exposure for personnel in the construction industry if employers work to comply with the regulations now.

β€œThe policy has finally caught up with the science,” David Michaels, assistant secretary of Labor for occupational safety and health told attendees of the American Society of Safety Engineers’ annual conference in Atlanta last year.

The Table 1 Standard Guidelines for Silica PEL

The new rule has two standards, one for construction and one for general industry. The guidance for construction, generally referred to Table 1, lists specific methods to control exposure to silica for a variety of construction activities.

The benefits to following the guidelines in Table 1 are important to any company in demolition or construction. Employers who adhere to the guidelines will not be required to measure the exposure to workers, which could add to costs. The marketplace has already responded with new designs in equipment and tools to meet OSHA standards.

Consequences for Not Following OSHA Guidelines

Employers who choose not to follow Table 1 guidelines will be required to measure the silica exposure to track levels. They may be required to implement dust control measures and provide respirators to workers when those dust control measures fail to bring the PEL down to the maximum allowable.

In addition, employers who fail to protect workers from crystalline silica exposure may be cited by OSHA. If employers simply adhere to Table 1, they will avoid citations while keeping workers safe.

The demolition industry has known about the new regulations since last year. Implementation is just around the corner for the construction industry. SV Demolition has instituted the necessary adjustments and procedures to meet OSHA safety regulations, and we stay ahead of the industry in safety issues.

Contact SV Demolition for your next project. We are safe, professional, efficient, and innovative – what we consider to be our four pillars of excellence. We have knowledge and experience to handle your demolition projects safely and proficiently. Call today!