Stay compliant with OSHA's Respirable Crystalline Silica standards -

29 CFR 1926.1153 (Construction) and 29 CFR 1910.1053 (General Industry & Maritime)

Crystalline silica is a common material found in raw form from soil, sand, stone, mortar, and concrete. On worksites that involve cutting, sawing, drilling, and crushing, silica becomes fine airborne dust, which impairs workers' safety. Respirable, or breathable, crystalline silica is 100 times smaller than a grain of sand and can easily enter the lungs of employees. Nearly 2.3 million American workers are exposed to dangerous respirable crystalline silica dust every day.

Examinetics offers comprehensive medical exams to keep you compliant with the OSHA Silica Standard and the proposed MSHA Silica Rule. Our team has conducted thousands of silica exams on workforces across the U.S. Through extensive experience, our medical team can provide guidance into understanding and adhering to the regulations and keeping your employees safe. We can also help you find specialists in pulmonary disease and occupational medicine.

7 Challenges Implementing the OSHA Silica Standard

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We deliver our services to your site in our functional, comfortable and clean mobile units across the nation.

 

  • Multiphasic Unit: The large mobile multiphasic units are equipped for a variety of medical screening uses including silica exams. The layout contains two examination rooms, an x-ray, audio booths and an onboard restroom.

  • Mobile Medical Unit: Our mobile medical units are equipped with an examination room, audio booths and x-ray for your medical surveillance and respiratory exam needs. 

MSHA Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) published their final rule, "Reducing Miners’ Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica," on April 18, 2024. This ruling updates previous federal standards to enhance protection for U.S. miners against health risks associated with respirable crystalline silica exposure.

 

Responding to silica-related health conditions affecting miners, the rule aims to combat diseases such as black lung, lung cancer, silicosis, and progressive massive fibrosis. Approximately 250,000 miners stand to benefit from these changes.

 

Coal mine operators must comply within 12 months from the publication date.
Metal and Nonmetal (MNM) mine operators have 24 months to comply.

Key components of the MSHA Silica Standard:

 

 

  • Silica dust exposure Limit Reduction:

    MSHA has set new exposure limits for ALL miners for quartz and respirable crystalline silica to 50 µg/m3, with an action level of 25 µg/m3, calculated over an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA).

  • Medical surveillance extended to MNM miners:

    All Metal and Nonmetal (MNM) miners will now be included in medical surveillance protocols, aligning with those already in place for coal miners. Miners will receive initial and periodic medical examinations, with voluntary and mandatory exams for existing and new workers, respectively.

     

    Contact us today to learn about our silica medical examinations.

  • Enhanced Exposure Monitoring:

    Mine operators must undertake initial and ongoing sampling to evaluate miners' silica exposure and adjust to changes in mining operations that could affect exposure levels. The new regulation also updates the standard for sampling/measuring respirable crystalline silica.

     

    Learn more about our Indstrial Hygiene and air sampling services.

  • Adoption of ASTM Respiratory Protection Standard:

    The ANSI standard has been replaced by ASTM F3387-19, requiring a written respiratory protection program in accordance with ASTM guidelines.

     

    Learn more about our Respirator Fit Testing and Respirator Clearance services.

Contact us today to learn how Examinetics can help you stay compliant with the MSHA Silica Standard.

Examinetics offer comprehensive medical exams to help you stay compliant with OSHA standard. Our Silica health screenings provide the following services: 

  • Respirator/Silica questionnaire
  • Height, weight and vitals
  • Pulmonary function test
  • X-rays with B reading
  • Physician exam
  • TB screening
  • Respirator and silica medical clearance reporting
  • Employee’s medical data stored in our XM solutions platform

silica physical exam

Silica: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good

From health supplements and cellphones to the bricks of our homes, silica is a key ingredient in a vast number of modern products and basic essentials.

Most commonly, the type of silica called crystalline silica is found in ordinary products such as glass, pottery, bricks, mortar and artificial stone. Without silica, houses, roads and transportation wouldn’t exist as we know them.

Commercially, silica is in many health supplements used largely for skin health and joint and bone care. It may also be used in blood pressure and high cholesterol medication.

Additionally, the construction of technological equipment such as computers and phones contain crystalline silica. On a broad scale, silica is essential in the infrastructure of the internet, renewable energy and telecommunications.

road construction worker with perforator

The Bad

While silica’s benefits to society are numerous, it can also cause illness. When silica becomes respirable, it becomes dangerous. This occurs primarily on worksites involving cutting, sawing, drilling, or crushing silica. Nearly 2.3 million American workers are exposed to dangerous crystalline silica dust every day.
Breathing in crystalline silica dust is toxic and leads to severe health implications. Some of the issues/illness from crystalline silica dust include:

  • Bronchitis - This involves the inflammation of the bronchial tubes which leads to chest congestion, wheezing and coughed-up mucus.
  • Systemic autoimmune diseases
    • Lupus - This is a disease that affects skin, blood cells, heart, lungs and joints. Lupus has no cure, but symptoms can be managed.
    • Rheumatoid arthritis - This is a disorder which causes severe inflammation to joints as well as damage to skin, eyes, lungs and heart.

The Ugly

The most common illness from silica dust is silicosis. When you inhale small crystalline silica dust, it embeds itself in the lungs, which, after a time, inflame and scar. There are several forms of silicosis. 

  • Chronic silicosis – This is the most common form of silicosis, which slowly occurs within 10 to 30 years of exposure. Symptoms include damaged lungs with scarring, difficulty in breathing and coughing. Extreme cases, called complicated silicosis, lead to heart disease.
  • Accelerated silicosis – This type is similar to chronic, however, occurs at an accelerated rate, within the first five years of high-level exposure.
  • Acute silicosis – After high exposure, symptoms may occur within weeks. Symptoms include cough, weight loss, fever and fatigue. 
    While typically caused by smoking, lung cancer is also a danger of silica dust exposure. Symptoms of lung cancer include a consistent cough, chest pain, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, bone pain, headache and loss in weight.

The Treatment

To protect yourself from respirable silicosis and other ailments, the best practice is to decrease exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Worksites grinding, crushing or drilling rock, mortar or concrete should create a preventative action plan against respirable crystalline silica exposure. NIOSH recommends the following ideas: 

  • Educate yourself and others on the dangers of breathing crystalline silica dust. Awareness is key.
  • On worksites, use water spray systems and appropriate ventilation in confined areas.
  • Wear a respirator on the worksite when working around products/objects containing crystalline silica. Even if you cannot see the dust, you may still be at risk.
  • Wash hands before and after working in dust-covered areas.
  • Keep your clothes and body clean after leaving dusty workplace.
  • Most importantly, NIOSH recommends all employee take advantage of medical and wellness screenings. Health screenings alleviate risk and track longstanding health effects to exposures on the job to keep workers safe and protected. 

Employers should be aware of OSHA’s two respirable crystalline silica standards to protect workers: one for construction and the other for general industry and maritime.

Sources

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