STEPS FOR EMPLOYERS
An important first step for all landscape contractors is to learn the applicable OSHA regulations. These include reporting any cases of silicosis among your workers on OSHA Form No. 300, Log of Work-related Injuries and Illnesses. Also, remember that depending on the task being performed, landscape contractors may be subject to either OSHA’s general industry standards or its construction standards. (See “Resources for Employers” for more information on OSHA’s silica-related standards, including links to information on OSHA’s respiratory protection standards.)
Here are some more steps to take:
• Determine whether your crews are at jobsites where silica dust may be present. Remember that silica dust may be generated by the work a general contractor or other subcontractors do.
• Implement a jobsite-specific safety and health plan. Make sure that your plan includes guidance on recognizing when silica dust may be present. Also, ensure that it includes measures you will take (engineering controls, personal protective equipment and work practices) to control or eliminate silica dust exposures and protect your workers.
• Conduct a safety and health assessment of each jobsite where silica dust may be present. Consider such engineering controls as wet drilling or wet sawing of materials containing silica, using a HEPA vacuum to clean up dust and debris, and requiring enclosed cabs on equipment used at the jobsites. NOTE: Be sure that you have a regular maintenance program for dust control systems and that you document in writing when maintenance was done.
• Determine whether crew members need respiratory protection. In order to do this, you will need to perform air monitoring of respirable crystalline silica exposures. Outside assistance is available to help you do this. Air monitoring is also important to make sure any engineering controls you have implemented are working. (See “Resources for Employers” for links to information on OSHA’s respiratory protection standards and NIOSH’s recommended exposure limits and respirator recommendations for crystalline silica.)
• Train your workers. Make sure they understand the potential hazards of silica dust, the importance of using appropriate engineering controls and respiratory protection, the importance of practicing “good housekeeping” at jobsites, and other steps they can take to reduce their risk of exposure to respirable crystalline silica.
• Make medical exams available to workers exposed to crystalline silica.
Resources for Employers
Free resources are available in both English and Spanish for landscape contractors interested in learning more about silica dust and silicosis. These include:
OSHA resources. For information on OSHA’s silica-related standards, visit: www.osha.gov/SLTC/silicacrystalline/standards.html. To link to other OSHA standards, visit: www.osha.gov, then click on “Regulations” at the top of the home page. Note: OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits for crystalline silica can be found in OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.1000, Table Z-3. Other helpful OSHA resources include: “Safety and Health Topics: Silica, Crystalline” at www.osha.gov/SLTC/silicacrystalline/index.html, the OSHA Silica eTool at www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/silica/index.html, the OSHA eTool on Respiratory Protection at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/respiratory/index.html, the OSHA-PLANET (Professional Landcare Network) Alliance Landscaping and Horticultural Services Safety and Health Topics Page at www.osha.gov/SLTC/landscaping/index.html, and a publication entitled Controlling Silica Exposures in Construction at www.osha.gov/Publications/3362silica-exposures.pdf.
NIOSH resources. Visit the NIOSH “Safety and Health Topic: Silica” Web page at www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/silica for silica-related information and to link to many other resources, including the NIOSH Health Hazard Review: Health Effects of Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica, www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2002-129/02-129a.html and the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg where you can get more information on NIOSH’s recommended exposure limits and respirator recommendations. Other good NIOSH resources include a guide for workers entitled Silicosis: Learn the Facts at www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2004-108/default.html and the NIOSH “Safety and Health Topic: Respirators” Web page at www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/topics/respirators.
Silica Checklist for Employers.
It’s Not Just Dust! What you should know about silicosis and crystalline silica.
If It’s Silica … It’s Not Just Dust!
Other good resources include the OSHA On-Site Consultation Service, www.osha.gov/dcsp/smallbusiness/consult.html, which offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses with priority given to high-hazard worksites; your state health department; and the electronic Library of Construction (for multilingual documents on silica), www.elcosh.org/docs/hazard/chemical_silica.html.