Complying with OSHA’s latest silica regulations depends on your industry. Some industries (namely construction) will need to comply by as early as June 23rd, 2017. Others have until June 2018. This may seem like the distant future, but preparing for that day will take a considerable amount of effort from your team. You may even need to begin planning out your budgets now in order to have funds available for an industrial vacuum.
This may seem overwhelming, and you might not have an idea of where to start. So we did the planning for you. We’ve listed below the first three tasks you should complete in order to begin planning for your compliance date.
1) Measure Your Silica Levels
Your first step should be receiving an accurate estimate of your workplace’s existing silica levels. This will act as a benchmark for the rest of your compliance strategies. It should also give you a better idea on how problematic crystalline silica is in your work environment. The reading will be an indicator of what collection method makes sense for your industry.
If you do not already have an industrial hygienist on staff, you'll need to consult a company who can provide someone with a background in measuring airborne silica dust.
2) Speak with an Industrial Hygienist
The best thing you can do in light of the new OSHA regulations is to contact an Industrial Hygienist. Armed with advanced knowledge in fields like chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, toxicology, and epidemiology, these specially trained professionals will help find and correct workplace hazards, making them a key asset in becoming OSHA compliant.
Working closely with employees, the typical roles of the industrial hygienist include:
- Investigating and examining the workplace for hazards and potential dangers
- Making recommendations on improving the safety of workers and the surrounding community
- Conducting scientific research to provide data on possible harmful conditions in the workplace
- Developing techniques to anticipate and control potentially dangerous situations in the workplace and the community
- Training and educating the community about job-related risks
- Advising government officials and participating in the development of regulations to ensure the health and safety of workers and their families
- Ensuring that workers are properly following health and safety procedures
3) Schedule Medical Exams
Finally, you should schedule time for a physician or other medical professional to conduct a staff-wide lung examination. The diseases silica causes, which we discuss further in this blog, are predominantly diagnosed through a chest X-ray. This shows any scarring or damage to the lung and can give your employees a much-needed screening. For more information, check out Michigan State's Recommended Screening Protocol.
When all is said and done, you might need to invest in one or more machines to help you become OSHA compliant: a HEPA shop vacuum, industrial vacuum, and/or a silica dust collector. To learn more about each, check out our guide on which one is best for you.