DynaGrace Enterprises today announced that they are expanding their product line to include state-of-the-art technology to monitor air quality. The Nanozen DustCount 8899, a real-time, wearable, respirable dust monitor detects air particulates down to a microscopic level in real-time.
OSHA has recently changed the Respirable Crystalline Silica Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) to 50 mg/m3 for 8 hours and the Action Limit to 25 mg/m3.
Employers need to evaluate and control the exposure limit for their employees.
One way to do that is to have a worker wear the DustCount, for 8 hours and obtain the Total Weight Average (TWA). The rugged DustCount fits into a vest pocket or clips on a belt. The results can be analyzed real-time and downloaded at the end of the shift. The filter is then sent to an AIHA approved lab to be analyzed for silica levels.
“A problem in the workforce is getting the worker to wear a mask while working in environments heavily laden with dust. The respirator masks are hot and uncomfortable and lower productivity in an industrial environment,” stated Linda Rawson, President, and CEO of DynaGrace Enterprises. “Determining what work processes have high exposure and requiring the worker to wear the mask only during those periods is a win-win scenario for both the employer and the worker.”
DynaGrace Enterprises accepted the opportunistic challenge from Nanozen because of their passion for Air Quality and the safety of the industrial worker.
Products, like the Nanozen DustCount 8899, are making a difference. In 2017 OSHA reported 45,800 fewer nonfatal injury and illness cases compared to the 2016 statistics reported by the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII). The CDC age-adjusted statistics report that the death rate for Silicosis during the period of 2005-2014, went from 1.65 Male, .03 Female, per million in 2005 down to .69 Male, .01 Female in 2014. The statistics should only get better because of the new OSHA standard.
Linda Rawson passionately says “Let’s face it. We don’t want anybody years from now spitting a piece of their lung on the sidewalk from silicosis.”
Customers can learn more about DynaGrace Enterprises by visiting the company’s website at DynaGrace.com or by calling the company directly at 888-676-0058. DynaGrace Enterprises will be at the AIHA conference in the Nanozen booth #1502.
Two male industrial workers who were inside a West Virginia ceramics factory, Public Domain Picture by CDC
From the day we’re born, taking a deep breath is something we all take for granted. Silica in an industrial environment is common place.
Adults breathe 12 – 20 times a minute when they are resting.
As humans, we take between 17,000 – 30,000 breaths a day, and the total length of the airways in our lungs is estimated to be 1491 miles (2,400 km.) The equivalent of Denver, Colorado to New York City, NY in travel! However, every breath you take has the potential to cause silicosis. Especially if you work in an environment where you are exposed to respirable crystalline silica (RCS).
What is silica?
Silica is a fundamental component of soil, sand, granite and many other minerals and is found in many places on Earth. The most common form of silica is Quartz (the other two have cristobalite and tridymite). All three forms create breathable particles when workers chip, cut, drill or grind objects containing silica.
Silica, is a primary component of the Earth’s crust, is present in a wide range of industrial and non-industrial environments and consumer products (including many cosmetics and cat litter).
The breathing of the silica dust generated from these activities can have a devastating effect on health, which can cause lung cancer and silicosis.
When we talk about the dangers of silica, the word “silicosis” immediately comes to mind.
Silicosis itself tends to be linked to mining. The weakening lung disease, caused by the inhalation of crystalline silica dust, has flourished in medical, political and social policy responses and has captured the public imagination expressed in popular culture, from mining ballads to representative art.
There are legitimate reasons for this – not least the massive harm to the lungs caused by the disease. Silicosis has precedence of being a dangerous occupational disease and has made its mark in the mining industry in the global economy.
However, when it comes to silicosis, the mining industry is not the full story, and silicosis is not the primary disease when it comes to silica risks.
Since the 1990s, medical science has re-evaluated the potential role of silica in triggering inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases which include systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, and sarcoidosis. Although it was previously thought to be harmful only when inhaled in the form of dust, the question now arises whether exposure to silica in other forms can also be risky.
The road from safety to occupational health, industrial hygiene and well-being may be a long and winding road, but as practitioners, we get the hierarchy of control measures. If we all took the time to consider RCS and whether our existing control measures were designed to ensure routine maintenance and control of RCS, we would each contribute to reducing the number of people dying of silicosis and keep the worker safe.
OSHA put out a Request for Information (RFI) to ask for additional information regarding the respirable crystalline silica standard. OSHA revised the silica standard March 25, 2016, and launched an industry compliance effort on September 23, 2017, with full enforcement of the October 23, 2017 standard.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers working on Folsom Damn. Photo allowed from Public Domain by US.
The 2016 OSHA rule lowered the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) to 50 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) of air as an 8-hour Time Weighted Average (TWA) in general industries. OSHA considers that level to be technically achievable for affected industries. In construction, OSHA put an Action Level (AL) of 25 µg/m3 over 8-hour TWA, among other requirements. The original OSHA standard established in 1971 had a PEL of 250 µg/m3 in the construction industry and 100 µg/m3 in general industry.
The OSHA standard for the construction industry is strict, and the criteria are listed in Appendix I: OSHA Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction. Inside the appendix is a table of engineering controls, work practices, and respiratory protection specified for everyday construction job tasks that possibly release respirable crystalline silica. Employers that comply with the methods defined in “Table 1– Specified Exposure Control Methods When Working with Materials Containing Crystalline Silica ” are exempt from the PEL or demands for monitoring of employee worker direct exposures. However, employers should be willing to protect workers.
OSHA Seeking Additional Information
OSHA has issued the RFI to solicit comments from industry on Table 1. OSHA described its plan in the Fall 2018 schedule of governing and deregulatory actions. Regarding the Fall of 2018 agenda, OSHA said it had an interest in 3 details:
The efficiency of control determines not consisted of for tools and jobs listed in Table 1;
Tasks and even devices including exposure to respirable crystalline silica that is not noted in Table 1; and
The performance of dirt control methods in limiting employee exposures to respirable crystalline silica when executing those procedures.
In evaluating the responses to the RFI, OSHA will determine if alterations to Table 1 are ideal and needed.
Lower PEL Full of Controversy
Regarding the OSHA 2016 rule, the development of lower PEL was subject to controversy, debatable and probably would be challenged in federal court.
Nevertheless, December 22, 2017, the three-judge panel of the UNITED STATES Court of Appeals in Washington DC upheld the OSHA rulemaking with one exception, finishing a challenge by North America’s Building Trades Union and US Chamber of Commerce. An agreement was made that OSHA’s medical removal requirements were arbitrary and instructed the agency to reconsider them.
What Should Employers Be Aware Of?
Employers that comply with the PEL are not subject to exposure assessment. Construction industry employers should focus their efforts on the exposure control methods. The exposure control methods are defined in Table 1 of the OSHA standard, however, methods not included in the standard should be avoided. If an employer is not properly implementing the control methods OSHA will issue citations.
According to Bloomberg Environmental, a Virginia construction company was issued five citations for respirable crystalline silica violations totaling $304,130. In other words, the fines could be the most substantial fines ever under the new silica standard.
As a result of the new and revised 2017 OSHA regulation for respirable crystalline silica, OSHA has been trying to clear any questions concerning compliance.
Master Sgt. Donnie Bogan saws cutting lines in concrete, licensed under the terms of the United States Government Work.
The controversial crystalline silica guideline from OSHA took effect on June 23, 2016. Industrial sectors had between one and five years to fully comply with the new standard. The building and construction sector’s conformity day was Oct. 23, 2017.
The regulation lowered the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) required dust controls as well as safer work techniques and called for employers to offer respirators to employees when other safe job techniques were unable to restrict respirable crystalline dust exposure.
Employers need to evaluate the exposure of each worker that is or may reasonably be anticipated to be subjected to respirable crystalline silica at or above the authorized limit making use of either an efficiency alternative or a set up monitoring option.
According to Bloomberg Environmental, a Virginia construction company was issued five citations for crystalline silica violations totaling $304,130 USD. The fines could be the largest fines ever under the new silica standard.
Recently, OSHA released a brand-new silica standard Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) to offer some clarification. The new FAQs were created after talking to the general industry and industry stakeholders.
The goal of the new silica standard FAQ is to give further guidance to both companies and employees on the silica standard’s requirements. The areas highlighted are methods of compliance, exposure assessments, regulated areas, and communication of respirable silica hazards to employees.
Q: Can employers use data from real-time monitoring and exposure mapping to assess employee exposures under the performance option?
A: Yes. Data generated by real-time monitoring of respirable dust levels (conducted using direct-reading instruments) can be combined with exposure mapping to assess employee exposures under the performance option, provided that the data can be correlated with individual employee exposures and otherwise meet the requirements for objective data. OSHA notes that in order to estimate the level of respirable crystalline silica in the air using real-time monitoring data, employers must also know the percentage of silica in the dust (e.g., from the analysis of a bulk sample or information from a safety data sheet). If an employer does not know the percentage of silica in the dust, it can assume 100% of the respirable dust is silica for purposes of determining worst case exposures from real-time monitoring data under the standard.
Q: If an employer characterizes employee exposures under the performance option using objective data from real-time monitoring and exposure mapping, how often does the employer need to repeat the monitoring and mapping process?
A: The goal of the performance option is to give employers flexibility to accurately characterize employee exposures using whatever combination of air monitoring data or objective data is most appropriate for their circumstances. Therefore, OSHA has not specified exactly how often data should be collected for these purposes. Employers may rely on existing data as long as the data continues to be sufficient to accurately characterize employee exposures. OSHA notes, however, that accurately characterizing employee exposures is an ongoing duty, and employers must reassess exposures whenever a change in the production, process, control equipment, personnel, or work practices may reasonably be expected to result in new or additional exposures at or above the AL, or when the employer has any reason to believe that new or additional exposures at or above the AL have occurred. See 29 C.F.R. § 1910.1053(d)(4)
Q: If personal sampling results show that one employee, who works in a small, non-enclosed area of a large building, is exposed above the PEL, but another employee, who is only a short distance away, is exposed below the PEL, how does the employer decide how far to extend the regulated area?
A: Because there is an exposure above the PEL, the facility must determine which task or operation is creating the overexposure and create a regulated area around that task or operation. In the example provided, the regulated area may include only the first employee’s work station. If the second employee is not exposed above the PEL and is not reasonably expected to be exposed above the PEL, the regulated area does not have to cover that employee’s work area. An employer could choose to use area sampling, real-time monitoring, or exposure mapping to assist in identifying the boundaries of a regulated area.
Ex Coal Miner with Black Lung, NARA/EPA via pingnews
Beyond mountain roads, deep in Appalachia, the article describes the familiar story of past coal miners, young and old, coughing uncontrollably and packing an oxygen tank on their back. Children are wondering what is wrong with their rapidly aging parents and grandparents. The concerned children watch them hack, cough, and spit up dead, black lung tissue onto the ground. The lung tissue dies so fast that the respiratory therapists describe it as “peeling away.”
The investigation suggests that for decades, the government regulators had evidence of excessive and toxic mine dust exposures but did nothing about it.
Thousands of cases of Black Lung are being reported to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Yes. It is 2019. Black Lung should not be an occupational health problem in this time period.
According to Dr. Robert Cohen, a pulmonologist at the University of Illinois in Chicago, “the advanced stage of black lung leaves lungs crusty and useless.” He has spent decades studying black lung and other lung diseases.
They’re essentially suffocating while alive.
The airborne poison that triggers serious condition isn’t coal mine dust alone. It consists of respirable crystalline silica, dangerous dust that is generated when miners reduced sandstone as they mine coal. Coal seams in central Appalachia are ingrained in sandstone which contains quartz; therefore when mining techniques reduce quartz, it produces respirable crystalline silica. The silica is inhaled deep into the lungs where it is lodged permanently.
Miners Waiting for Their Examination at the Appalachian Regional Hospital in Beckley, West Virginia, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
This excessive exposure to respirable crystalline silica almost certainly happened more often than the data suggests. Respirable crystalline silica sampling takes place during regular inspections, which are scheduled twice a year in surface mines and four times a year in underground mines.
Most of the sick and dying miners that were interviewed used dust masks and said they often didn’t work. With real-time monitoring of respirable crystalline silica masks only need to be worn during high levels of silica. By analyzing minute particles, a dangerous level can be determined, and miners do not have to wear a mask all the time.