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Minimizing Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica

To be in compliance with OSHA's Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard, Employers must use feasible dust controls to protect workers from silica exposures. 

To be in compliance with OSHA's Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard, Employers must use feasible dust controls to protect workers from silica exposures.

These methods of compliance include:
  • Engineering Controls
  • Administrative Controls (Work Practice)
  • Respiratory Protection, and
  • Written Exposure Control Plan
ENGINEERING CONTROLS
Engineering controls are designed to eliminate exposure by eliminating the formation of dust or preventing it from becoming airborne.

Examples of Engineering Controls:
  • Use of water as a spray or drench at the point of dust generation
  • Use of vacuums equipped with HEPA filters
ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROLS (WORK PRACTICES)
These types of controls minimize the exposure time to
a dusty environment by rotating employees or others in
and out of the exposure zone during the work shift.
  • Inspection
  • Maintenance
  • Scheduling
  • Training
Examples of Administrative Controls:
  • Inspecting and maintaining engineering controls
  • Ensuring wet controls spray water at the point of dust generation
  • Positioning local exhaust hoods
  • Wetting down silica dust before sweeping it up
  • Scheduling, limiting hours worked at specific tasks
  • Hazard Training
OSHA requires an employee to receive training anytime time they are assigned to a position involving exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The employer must ensure that employees can demonstrate knowledge and understanding of at least:
  • Health hazards associated with respirable crystalline silica exposure (cancer, lung effects, immune system effects, and kidney effects)
  • Which tasks could result in exposure to respirable crystalline silica
  • Measures implemented to protect employees from respirable crystalline silica exposure
  • Contents of the Respirable Crystalline Silica standard
  • The purpose and a description of the medical surveillance program
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)
PPE is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. For most tasks, the use of an N95 respirator provides adequate protection, however, engineering and administrative controls should be the first line of against exposure.

WRITTEN EXPOSURE CONTROL PLAN (ECP)
The ECP is generated primarily for use in the field or at the plant and lists the tasks where respirable silica may reasonably be expected to be present at some point. It also provides engineering controls, possible administrative controls and respiratory protection information for the listed tasks.
  • Description of the workplace tasks involving exposures 
  • Description of engineering controls, work practices, and respiratory protection used to limit employee exposure
  • Description of the housekeeping methods used to limit employee exposure

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