Silica is present in most manufactured products in the world. It’s in what people eat, drink, and use, making it one of the most important compounds.
Where it shouldn’t be is in people’s lungs, in its dust form. But it is, and managing crystalline silica is a challenge for manufacturers. It’s estimated that two million American workers are vulnerable to inhalation. It’s a cause of lung cancer, kidney and pulmonary disease, and silicosis. It’s so bad that it got a nickname: the King of Occupational Diseases.
Employing Better Dust Control
Modern dust control equipment will mitigate the contaminant exposure, states AER Control Systems. Put in a well-designed airflow system, controlling heavy levels of dust will be much easier. But you should still use best practices when it comes to dust control. Dust collectors shouldn’t handle everything. Overworking equipment will need more upkeep, which you don't want.
Here are several ways you can lower silica exposure rate:
- Provide training to avoid dust exposure
- Assess job hazards and areas with higher silica dust content
- Conduct regular medical tests
- Provide information about lung health and silica exposure
More importantly, however, OSHA will now require companies to adhere to the new silica dust rules. They extended the compliance deadline to September 23, 2017. After that, they will start enforcing the rules. They are hoping to prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis. The target is to reduce the silica dust content in the air from 250 micrograms to 50 micrograms.
Why It Pays to Be Proactive
If you haven’t already planned to invest in new dust control systems, your company is risking a lot. That’s why being proactive, despite going through downtime due to equipment integration, pays off. It’s a matter of safety, plain and simple. Your workers will be much safer, and your delicate machines won’t have to suffer dust exposure.
Keeping silica dust at a safe level is a challenging process. It requires tests, modern equipment, and strict rule compliance. But if applied properly, there can be no trouble in dust control and worker safety.