Silica can be a dangerous substance to work with. When workers are grinding, cutting, sawing, or polishing materials that contain silica, they have the chance of being exposed to silica dust. This exposure can lead to health problems—more specifically, lung problems. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently changed the game for silica standards by requesting information of Table 1 of the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction. This requirement for extra information has been put into place with the hopes that this added information will lead to more regulations and safety practices. With safer practices in place, ideally fewer businesses and workers will feel the burden that comes with regulations.
Silica is often found in quartz, but it is also a major component of sand. With numerous industries being exposed to the potential hazards from silica, something needs to be done. By requesting more information on Table 1 of the Silica Standard, OSHA is hoping to understand more about the equipment and tasks listed under Table 1. More specifically, they are requesting more information on engineering practices and work practice control methods. Knowing how exposure is or isn’t being limited will allow OSHA to propose control methods to improve work conditions. Therefore, the hope is that they will be able to limit exposure to silica and its subsequent health risks to those exposed to it.
OSHA is also requesting information about information outside of Table 1 as it relates to generating silica. The gathered information will provide valuable data on how silica exposure affects workers and workplace conditions in different industries. Ideally, this will lead to advancements in control methods for silica-generating equipment and practices.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers must provide a safe environment for their employees. Hopefully this information will help them continue to do so.