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Apr
2014
23

OSHA, Georgia Organizations Form Alliance to Fight Silica Dust Inhalation

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In hopes of educating Georgia workers about the dangers of working with silica dust, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has signed an alliance with several organizations to advance research and safety measures that will help avoid overexposure to the substance.  In Atlanta, representatives of OSHA, the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s Occupational Safety and Health Division, Brasfield & Gorrie LLC, the Georgia Local Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association and the Georgia Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers signed the agreement.  

In a statement, Teresa Harrison, OSHA’s acting regional administrator in Atlanta, praised the alliance:

“This alliance demonstrates the proactive commitment of federal, state and other partners to protect the safety and health of workers in the construction industry.”

Crystalline silica dust has been linked to silicosis, a non-reversible and often fatal lung disease. OSHA explains the dangers of silica dust:

Inhalation of respirable crystalline silica particles has long been known to cause silicosis, a disabling, non-reversible and sometimes fatal lung disease. Leading scientific organizations, including the American Cancer Society, have also confirmed the causal relationship between silica and lung cancer.

Occupational exposure to crystalline silica often occurs as part of common workplace operations involving cutting, sawing, drilling and crushing of concrete, brick, block, rock and stone products. Processes historically associated with high rates of silicosis include sandblasting, sand-casting foundry operations, mining, tunneling, cement cutting and demolition, masonry work, and granite cutting.

OSHA has recently proposed to update its current silica standard. Published in the Federal Register on Sept. 12, 2013, OSHA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica aims to update the inconsistent and outdated permissible exposure limits for crystalline silica in general industry, construction and shipyards, as well as to establish other provisions to better protect workers. OSHA just concluded three weeks of hearings on the proposed rule and is now receiving post-hearing comments.

Information about the occupational hazards of working with crystalline silica dust can be found on the OSHA website.

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