Chatsworth, CA – WEBWIRE  Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Silica is a part of the environment, commonly occurring in most soils. Chronic exposure to respirable crystalline silica particulates has long been known to cause restrictive lung disease and complications that can lead to cancer. Worker exposures to airborne crystalline silica are tightly restricted by California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA). Federal OSHA also recently passed new silica rules for maritime, general industry and construction sectors that become effective June 23, 2016.

In construction, concrete cutting, coring, grinding, some excavation operations, crushing operations that break, pulverize and crush hardened concrete can all generate significant amounts of airborne silica.

In the maritime and general industries, airborne silica can be generated during processes involving blending or handling bulk silica containing solids, abrasive blasting operations or using compressed air to clean surfaces. Additionally, concrete block manufacturing operations are known to generate airborne silica.

The New Federal Standard Although the final rule was published in the March 25, 2016 Federal Register, the full standard is not yet in the OSHA Standards on their website (https://www.osha.gov/law-regs.html). When published, the references will be 29CFR 1910.1053 for General Industry (and Maritime) and 29CFR 1926.1153 for the Construction Industry.

In California, to be in compliance, employers should always use the most stringent of the standards (i.e. Cal/OSHA or Federal OSHA). Since a comprehensive standard, like the new Federal OSHA standard, has not been adopted in California, employers should refer to the Federal standard when assessing their crystalline silica program.

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