OSHA’s Crystalline Silica Rule for Construction, effective since October 23, 2017, requires employers to take steps to protect workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The final rule lowers the permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica for all industries to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged during an 8-hour shift.
In addition to the health risks, failure to comply with the new regulations could mean a minimum fine of $5,000 per offense, and fines can increase to $70,000 in the United States. Consecutive days of non-compliance for certain guidelines warrants anywhere up to $7,000 per day. Subcontractors are typically penalized similarly to primary contractors under the same safety standards.
Despite the threat of these hefty fines, OSHA has still recorded 117 violations in the U.S. so far since these more stringent penalties came into play. Of the noted violations, approximately 80 percent were considered “serious”. The most common violations were for failing to conduct an exposure assessment for respirable silica, a lack of suitable equipment, and not possessing or being able to show evidence of a written exposure control plan. The largest fine to date was to a Virginia based company totaling over $304,000 from five violations.
Silicosis diagnoses have declined substantially over the last several decades, but critical cases are still being detected today. The most prominent of these are found in the engineered stone industry, based largely in California, Colorado, Texas and Washington.
Proper education and training play a key role in protecting workers from the dangers of silica dust. Jobsites can be improved if awareness around the most practical methods to avoid over-exposure is present. Employers are required to train employees and properly document that they are educated on the hazards of their work environment and how to prevent exposure.
The following hazards are required to be addressed:
Immune system effects
If found in violation, this is listed as a serious offense.
OSHA recommends the following:
At Parker, we understand the concerns facing those in the construction industry. We know that safety is your number one priority. The health concerns that are associated with the release of silica dust during jackhammer operation is an ongoing worry. Silica becomes airborne during sandblasting, rock cutting and several other construction practices. Customary brick and cement harbor between 20 to 30 percent silica, so restricting these particles from becoming airborne is vital to avoiding ingestion.
Parker’s 7084 Twinhammer Hose, from our Hose Products Division, is a chemically bonded dual air/water hose assembly made to deliver an air compressor hose and a water pump hose to jackhammers and is compliant with OSHA RCS standards to suppress silica dust when in use up to 212°F and 300 psi.
When used with our Jackhammer Hose Spray Kit it is an OSHA-compliant wet method hose system for silica dust suppression.
Parker team members around the world innovate to develop custom solutions that lead to a better tomorrow—a smarter, safer, and more sustainable tomorrow. And that means working closely with customers across many different industries to help solve their own unique challenges.
Parker's industrial hose specialist, Carrie Patterson teamed up with our distributor, Ritter Tech in Zelienople, PA to assist a construction company that uses jackhammers for bridge demolition projects. With the silica dust OSHA regulation, they needed to implement a solution to suppress dust when working on the bridges.
They tried using a garden hose for dust suppression but realized the high flow of water was not working and allowing excess water to drip into rivers below, causing the EPA to get involved. The demo projects were becoming a hassle and they needed a simple and efficient way to meet the OSHA regulation. Because of the fine mist that is generated with Parker’s spray kit, Twinhammer Hose was the solid solution to suppress dust and prevent excess water from dripping into the rivers below the bridge construction.
Parker and Ritter Tech worked with the company safety director and after testing the Twinhammer hoses on their jackhammers, the construction company put it to use with their upcoming bridge project.
“It worked so well, they implemented Twinhammer Hose into three of their other facilities to ensure they were OSHA compliant”
Joe Jelinek, division sales manager with Ritter Tech, Parker Authorized Distributor
Learn more about Twinhammer Hose. Both the solution itself and Parker's leading role in proactively addressing the dangers of RCS dust demonstrate the power of Purpose in Action. We will continue to seek out the engineering challenges with broad implications in the real world—and welcome the next opportunity to create a better, safer tomorrow.
This article was contributed by Carrie Patterson, industrial hose specialist, Parker Hannifin, and Joe Jelinik, division sales manager, Ritter Tech