Dust can be very dangerous even though we might think it is not. There are materials that can be a combustible dust hazard. There is also danger that can come from lead and asbestos dust. Another dangerous dust that we will discuss today is crystalline silica. Crystalline silica is a basic component of soul, sand, granite and other materials. When workers chip, cut, drill or grind objects that have this component if can become a hazard because of the tiny respirable size particle. When someone breathes this it can cause silicosis which according to The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA), it can be disabling or fatal. OSHA is also thinking of updating regulations on how much of a particular type of dangerous dust employees can be exposed in the workplace. The proposal to update the regulation was introduced a few months ago and there are three main components that will go into the regulation:
- Lower the allowable levels of crystalline silica
- Standardize the calculation
- Require medical monitoring for employees exposed to high levels
There is no timeline or whether this proposal will take place but OSHA is reinforcing and considering updating the regulations for crystalline silica. OSHA has established the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) which is the maximum amount of crystalline silica to which workers may be exposed during a regular eight hour shift. The organization has also implemented other programs and training and additional information on the component but an update on regulating silica is in the future.