What is 'Table 1' and why is it so important?
For more than 40 years, we've been aware that exposure to crystalline silica dust can cause serious health problems for workers. Since silica is naturally occurring and found in everything from concrete and pottery to sand and stone, it presents unique challenges when it comes to protecting workers.
Respirable crystalline silica is about 100 times smaller than ordinary sand and workers who inhale these particles are at increased risk of developing serious diseases, including:
- Lung cancer
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Kidney disease
(Learn more about The Dangers of Silica to Your Respiratory System)
Over those decades, safety professionals have fine-tuned their approach to protecting workers from this hazard. One significant step foward took place in 2019, with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) issuing a updated guidelines and regulations for silica exposure in the workplace.
The silica standard applies to all occupational exposures to respirable crystalline silica except where exposure is below the AL of 25 µg/m3 calculated as an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA), under any foreseeable conditions.
Table 1 is part of this update. Its full title is "Table 1: Specified Exposure Control Methods When Working with Materials Containing Crystalline Silica" and it is meant to help employers comply with the new rules. It eliminates the need for air monitoring if the specified exposure control methods are properly implemented, as detailed in sections (c) and (d) of the 29 CFR 1926.1153 standard.
The Contents of Table 1
Table 1 lists 18 construction tasks that tend to create high levels of silica dust and suggests methods for limiting the amount of dust produced. It also specifies when personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used.
The suggested methods outlined in Table 1 should be followed regardless of the measured levels of respirable crystalline silica at the worksite. Guidelines will be more stringent for workers who spend more than four hours in the presence of silica over the course of a workday.
According to 29 CFR 1910.134(a)(1), respiratory protection must be used to control occupational diseases caused by breathing air contaminated with harmful dust, fumes, fogs, gasses, smokes, sprays, mists, or vapors. 29 CFR 1910.134(a)(2) requires employers to provide appropriate respirators when necessary to protect the health of employees.
(Learn about The Basic Types of Respirators - And How to Select the Right One for Your Workplace)
Occupational exposure to silica dust varies depending on the work environment. A hazard analysis should be conducted to know which type of respirator will provide adequate protection.OSHA also urges workers to vacuum any excess dust from their clothing before leaving the worksite or to change out of any contaminated clothes. Workers should also refrain from eating or drinking anything while they are potentially exposed to silica.
Written by Safeopedia Staff
At Safeopedia, we think safety professionals are unsung superheroes in many workplaces. We aim to support and celebrate these professionals and the work they do by providing easy access to occupational health and safety information, and by reinforcing safe work practices.
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