One of the most critical mandates of the new OSHA regulations is training your workforce on what to expect moving forward. You may understand the law and the rules enforced by the government organization, but explaining these to your staff is much different. Demonstrating its importance may be challenging, so we’ve broken down the most essential parts that you must explain to anyone working in the field.
New Regulations and What They Mean
You can begin the discussion by addressing the reasons why OSHA is taking the precautions to limit silica dust in the workplace. A great talking point would be to address the main driver behind the latest update, doing so in a succinct way:
The primary reason behind this was the outdated nature of the existing laws. The previous regulations were based on findings from the 1970s and have become obsolete. The U.S. has since progressed in its ability to test and treat silica-related diseases, so the laws needed to reflect that. Now, there is a lower standard by which silica dust can be present in the air in order to prevent disease and save lives.
You can also review our 10 quick facts about the laws for more talking points, but this is a nice way to summarize what has happened and what to expect.
Crystalline Silica’s Effects
Second, you should discuss just how common silica dust is in manufacturing. It is a basic component of the earth and found in a number of stone types. If you’re involved in any form of surface cutting or drilling, you will encounter silica dust. This fact needs to be explained to your employees. They may not even be considering the sand or dust to be harmful, inhaling it without ever considering the harmful effects.
In explaining this point, you will want to mention the various diseases associated with inhaling crystalline silica. Be sure to mention how to spot common symptoms and what one should do if he or she experiences any lung problems.
Finally, you will want to instruct your workforce on proper equipment maintenance and behavior while working with crystalline silica-producing materials. Without proper attention to the surrounding environment, your staff may inadvertently inhale harmful particles. Here are a few things you should cover on workplace safety:
- Wet Cutting: You should take precautions to moisten your cutting surface prior to using machinery.
- Clothing: dust may accumulate on your clothes and even your skin during a shift. If possible, place your clothes in a sealable bag and shower before returning home.
- Respirators: When you’re exposed to silica for more than two continuous hours, you should be using some form of personal protection device during your work; whether this is a mask or a respirator.
- Piling Dust: Don’t let dust accumulate in the workplace. Speak with a manager about using a vacuum to transport this to a safe place.
There are plenty of other topics to discuss, but these should give you a solid baseline to bring your staff up to speed.