The short answer is: yes.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued new standards concerning crystalline silica, which has been known to cause silicosis, respiratory diseases, lung cancer, and even kidney disease. The new rules are designed to protect workers from dangerous levels of silica.
So here we’ve gone through some of the most important things to know concerning the new standards, hopefully to make you feel a little more informed, and so you can know what to expect. As a result of the silica regulations, Mr. Manhole has developed a new misting system for our cutter tools, which will help reduce silica exposure to your crew and help you easily comply with the regulations.
For more information on the safety features of our tools, be sure to check out this brief article.
Why is there a new standard?
The current permissible exposure limit (PEL) levels for crystalline silica had not been updated for about 46 years. As a result, the current rules are hard to understand and outdated. The original standards are based on 1960s research that is missing some of the information that is known today.
Who is affected?
According to OSHA, around 2 million workers are exposed to crystalline silica, and nearly half of them are exposed to levels beyond the new permissible level. So, even with current standards in place, these workers are still exposed to dangerous levels of silica.
Construction workers, and especially contractors, will be affected by the new standards. There are two standards, one for construction and one for general industry. The rules here apply to workplaces where employee exposure is at or above 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air (25 μg/m3) as an 8-hour time-weighted average.
An average workplace could expect $1,242 costs per year as a result of the standards. Employers with 20 or less employees can expect around $550 in costs.
What are the requirements?
Construction employers are required to:
- Develop a written silica exposure control plan.
- Designate someone to implement the plan.
- Adjust housekeeping practices to maximize control of silica dust.
- Provide medical exams every three years to employees who are exposed to silica to the point of having to wear a respirator for 30 days or more each year. The exams must include lung-function tests and chest X-rays.
- Train workers on how to limit exposure to silica.
- Keep records of workers’ silica exposure and related medical treatment.
How will employers comply?
The Mr. Manhole tools now feature our commercial misting system, developed to satisfy the new OSHA regulation regarding silica exposure control. The Mr. Manhole cutters are designed for your safety and the safety of your team. The misting system is just one more way we are working to make the system safer and more beneficial to you. In addition, when a company’s attitude reflects a responsibility towards the safety of their employees, it helps create a significantly better company/worker relationship.
With the Mr. Manhole Six Shooter mounted on a skid steer loader, your cutting and removing operation will fall under category 4.8 vehicle mounted drilling rig. The requirements are as follows. Use dust collection system with close capture hood or shroud around drill bit with a low-flow water spray to wet the dust at the discharge point from the dust collector – or operate from within an enclosed cab and use water for dust suppression on drill bit. You will comply with this ruling by operating the system from inside an approved cab and misting the cutting blades with water to control silica at the source.
You are required to develop a written silica exposure control plan for your operation. You can find a template for the silica exposure control plan here. You can create a per project silica exposure control plan here.
Please take the time to acquire the appropriate silica exposure control equipment and educate your employees on the proper use and maintenance of the equipment.
Develop your silica exposure control plan and share it with your employees. Prepare a silica exposure control plan for each manhole repair project and provide it to your customer. Post the plan on each jobsite in a conspicuous place. Determine the added cost to comply with the new regulations and charge accordingly. Properly comply with all regulations and get out there and be a successful business
Stay up to date with Mr. Manhole – through our website and blog – so that we can offer you this new system, as well as more construction and workplace solutions.