A drill bit with a hollow dust channel that captures dust while drilling inside a hole.
Hazard Analysis — Silica
Problem:Workers that drill holes and install reinforcing rods and anchors may face hazards from silica.
Initially, workers with silicosis may have no symptoms. As silicosis progresses, they may experience difficulty breathing and other chest symptoms such as a cough. There are three types of silicosis:
- Chronic silicosis, which usually occurs after 10 or more years of exposure to crystalline silica at relatively low concentrations;
- Accelerated silicosis, which results from exposure to high concentrations of crystalline silica and develops 5 to 10 years after the initial exposure; and
- Acute silicosis, which occurs where exposure concentrations are the highest and can cause symptoms to develop within a few weeks to 4 or 5 years after the initial exposure.
In 1996, the World Health Organization – International Agency on Cancer Research (IARC) changed its classification of crystalline silica from a probable human carcinogen to a known human carcinogen. In 2009, IARC reaffirmed its position noting “[an] increased risk of lung cancer was observed across various industries and processes.”
Exposure to silica has also been linked to renal disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Work Safely with Silica” at www.silica-safe.org provides information needed to assess the risk, determine if a material contains silica, and an on-line tool to create a job hazard analysis and plan for controlling exposures.
To determine if your worksite has high exposures to silica during these operations, you should: see if the materials you are using contain silica (materials or products containing more than 0.1% silica must be labeled) and measure exposure.
Regulations & Standards:
OSHA has a Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for exposure to respirable crystalline silica of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3) based on an 8-hour time weighted average. OSHA also requires hazard communications training for workers exposed to crystalline silica, as well as a respiratory protection program until engineering controls are implemented.
In September 2008, CalOSHA issued a standard “Control of Employee Exposures from Dust-Generating Operations Conducted on Concrete or Masonry Materials.”
In December, 2004, New Jersey signed a law prohibiting the dry cutting and dry grinding of masonry.
NIOSH recommends an exposure limit lower than the OSHA PEL. The NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limit (REL), published in 1974, is 0.05 mg/m3 based on a time-weighted average for up to 10 hours.
The American Conference of Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) recommends a Threshold Limit Value of 0.025 mg/m3 based on an 8-hour time-weighted average.
Federal OSHA Standards are enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor in 26 states. There are currently 22 states and jurisdictions operating complete State plans (covering both the private sector and state and local government employees) and 5 - Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and the Virgin Islands - which cover public employees only. If you are working in one of those states or jurisdictions you should ensure that you are complying with their requirements.
One study, “A case-control study of airways obstruction among construction workers”, examined occupational exposures to vapors, gases, dusts and fumes (VGDF) among older construction workers between 1997 and 2013, comparing 834 workers with COPD and 1,243 controls. Approximately 18% (95% CI=2-24%) of COPD in this population can be attributed to workplace exposures associated with construction tasks. After adjusting for smoking habits in this population, the study also revealed among construction workers who never smoked, 32% (95% CI=6-42%) of COPD was attributable to the workplace.
A software program that lets users match video feed of work processes, or tasks being performed, with real-time exposure measurements.