The Major Changes in Foundries: OSHA’s New Silica Standard

OSHA Silica Standard

As time passes since the implementation of the new OSHA standard for respirable crystalline silica, an increasing number of foundries may find that their current metal casting and machining practices are not meeting compliance. OSHA Standard CFR 1910.1053 took effect on June 23, 2016, and has given foundries and other businesses until June 2018 to fully adapt and meet these new compliance standards. This new standard sets rigid guidelines for any and all companies that work with crystalline silica including foundries, glass factories, construction companies, and more. To meet compliance, foundries will need to do a significant amount of preparation work in a short window of time.

With the help of an industrial vacuum system, such as the models we provide at Industrial Vacuum, cleaning requirements associated with the new standard can easily be met. However, the remaining preparation that will be needed to fully comply will be taxing and time-consuming to manufacturers. It’s leaving many companies asking the question: “Is this even necessary?”

The Responsibility of Foundries

Foundries have been given two years since the implementation of this new OSHA standard to meet the compliance requirements. Prior to June 2018, all foundries (and other non-construction businesses) must consider the following:

  • Assess Exposure Levels - Since not every employee is subjected to work in areas where there is crystalline silica, metal casting employees being the most at risk, it is vital that companies determine the exposure levels for each individual employee. Assessing the silica exposure of each employee requires monitoring to be implemented for every project, shift, and assigned activity. Monitoring can be completed with exposure mapping and real-time instruments that identify sources of silica dust.
  • Measurement of Silica – Gathering enough silica dust to complete a full analysis can be a time-consuming process, however, measurement is vital so that companies can determine how much silica will need to be cleaned up within the entire plant.
  • Detailed Education for Employees – Companies will be responsible for educating their employees on proper work practice controls, what to do if exposure rises, and how to create restricted areas where exposure has increased significantly.
  • Thorough Analysis of Employee Records – With the new standard, employers are required to pay close attention to incidents of lung cancer and/or silicosis in the workplace. Occurrences of either must be documented and tracked along with silica exposure levels to see if there is any correlation.

New Requirements Will Change Silica Removal Forever

Cleaning up after a day’s work will no longer be sufficient if it’s completed with just a broom and a dustpan. Companies that are looking for viable solutions to meet the new cleaning requirements should turn to industrial vacuum systems.

These systems are currently the best option in terms of overall cost, safety, and effectiveness when it comes to cleaning the workspace efficiently. Specifically, manufacturers should choose industrial vacuum systems that vent clean air back into the atmosphere to avoid causing pollution. Ease of operation for these systems will be of high priority as employees will be undergoing several changes to their cleaning practices.

When choosing an industrial vacuum system there are several things to consider. First, it is important to determine the air-to-cloth ratio as this will indicate the system's effectiveness at pulling silica particulates from the air; the lower the air-to-cloth ratio, the better. Next, be sure the vacuum system has a high-efficiency blower safety filter to catch any particulate that may get through the primary filters.

While the changes to the cleaning process can be intimidating, industrial vacuum systems can save foundry employees hours of work and make cleaning labor easier. At Industrial Vacuum, we offer several models of dust collecting vacuums. From HEPA Shop Vacs to Portable and Stationary Dust Collectors, Industrial Vacuum is sure to have an industrial vacuum to meet the needs for your silica clean-up.