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What hazard does silica dust represent in the workplace?

| Apr 1, 2016 | Workplace Injuries

If you’re working in the construction industry or other industrial environments, you may be exposed to respirable crystalline silica. This is a type of dust that can lead to several kinds of injuries including lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, kidney disease and silicosis.

These diseases can make it impossible to continue working. They can impact your health and life outside work, potentially leading to death or permanent injury. If you’ve been exposed in the past to these hazards, it’s important to discuss your health with your employer. You may be entitled to care or compensation for the risk to your health.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has created a new rule to help save workers from this hazard. The OSHA wants to limit exposure to this dust as much as possible. Its key provisions state that the permissible exposure limit is only 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air within an 8-hour shift. Employers will be required to control exposure by using engineering controls and by limiting worker access to areas where the silica dust could be present.

For workers who are exposed to high levels of silica, it’s important that employers provide information about the risks to their lung health while also providing medical exams to monitor their overall well-being. After reviewing the scientific evidence surrounding silica, it’s been found that it can be hazardous or deadly; it leads to disease and the past standards simply weren’t high enough. Today, workers are most likely to be exposed when working with hydraulic fracturing or stone countertop fabrication.

Source: United States Department of Labor, “OSHA’s Final Rule to Protect Workers from Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica,” accessed April 01, 2016

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