Last fall, OSHA announced its intentions to explore updating the 2016 silica dust regulations that seemingly took the construction by storm. Their intent was to gain feedback on additional dust control methods that would be suitable for hazard control, as well as on additional tasks and equipment not currently covered by Table 1 in 29 CFR 1926.1153. Last week, they announced the next step they’re taking towards revisions.
According to the Federal Register Notice, OSHA is specifically looking for additional information regarding the following control methods:
Commercially available dust collection systems for masonry saws, handheld power saws, walk behind saws, drivable saws, rig-mounted core saws or drills. Currently, table 1 only permits the use of an integrated water delivery system for dust control.
Dust control systems incorporating hollow drill bits
Commercially available dust collection systems for cordless handheld drills
Integrated water delivery systems for handheld, stand-mounted drills, and dowel drilling rigs for concrete
Commercially available dust collection systems with general purpose filters, instead of filters with 99% efficiency
Floor fans or pedestal fans positioned to move the dust away from workers on a variety of different tools.
Currently, Table 1 only includes 18 different kinds of equipment or tasks, but OSHA is considering the addition of other tasks that may warrant protection, including:
Power sanders, like belt and orbital sanders
Power paint scrapers
Dust control methods for cleanup tasks involving silica containing material
Mixing of dry materials, such as mortar, plaster, drywall compound, fireproofing, exterior insulation, etc
Application of coloring and/or texturizing material on concrete floors (AKA shake)
Chainsaws cutting silica containing material
Use of power sweepers
Application of dry or wet-mix shotcrete
Drywall finishing (OSHA notes that they “did not include drywall finishing on Table 1 because use of drywall compounds containing silica only as a trace contaminant was generally expected to result in low exposures even without additional controls. However, the agency recognizes that some drywall finishing may involve compounds with higher or unknown silica content, or circumstances that may warrant concern for exposure above the PEL.”
Demolition of silica containing materials using manual tools, like sledge hammers, chisels, etc.
If you’re interested in providing comments to OSHA regarding any of the items above, they must be submitted by October 14, 2019 through www.regulations.gov, by mail, or by fax. More information for comments can be found on the Federal Register Notice.