Solve Dust at the Plant
For the production side of the industry, there is no “Table 1” to guide company owners or safety directors in implementing engineering controls for protecting workers from respirable crystalline silica. This means you may be wondering how to assess dust exposure levels and protect workers from anything questionable you may discover, even if what you discover is not above permissible exposure levels (PELs). Anywhere you observe visible dust clouds at your facility, set up a way to monitor the actual exposure level at that location.
The Problem: You’ve Found Dust at Your Plant Site
If employees are exposed to respirable crystalline silica dust of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air or more over an eight-hour time weighted average, their health could be negatively impacted (See 29 CFR 1926.1153). As of June 23 this year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) required employers in general industry to be aware of the areas where the exposure limit may be exceeded and protect workers in those areas.
“It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure their employee exposure to silica dust is minimal, and at the very least below the PEL,” stated the representatives of Chemtek Inc., Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. “We believe employers should use all feasible methods of dust reduction to protect their workers from exposure.”
One Solution: Make Water Wetter
“Most [facilities] are continually spraying water on their roads to keep the dust levels down,” Chemtek representatives explained. One way to make water more effective is by adding something like the company’s silica dust suppressant. Here’s how that works.
“Adding NeSilex to those water tanks would make the water more effective in keeping the dust down and make the water last longer since there is better penetration into the dirt and less water would be needed for effective dust control. NeSilex is designed to enhance the effectiveness of water as a wetting agent. It also includes special agglomerating agents which target dust particles. As such, adding NeSilex to water in any dust control scenario would make the water more effective in controlling airborne dust. Using NeSilex in conjunction with a respirator would further decrease worker exposure to crystalline silica inhalation.
“NeSilex … has been tested in real world scenarios to show up to a 100 percent reduction in silica dust levels on construction sites. Simply adding NeSilex to any existing water spray down system will show a ‘good faith effort’ by employers to improve the health and safety of their employees in various construction scenarios.”
What methods have you put in place to reduce dust clouds at your facility? Let’s discuss it on our Facebook page.