Can a good Vacuum Save Your Life?
It starts with shortness of breath after exercising and a harsh, dry cough. As it progresses, you may have more trouble breathing and may even cough up blood. It can lead to congestive heart failure, giving your nails a bluish tint. In advanced stages, it shows itself as chest pain, hoarseness, and loss of appetite.
Silicosis is a serious respiratory disease and serious risk for many in the construction and industrial occupations. Sometimes referred to as Stone Mason’s Disease due to its prevalence for centuries among those who built the great cathedrals of Europe, silicosis is caused by prolonged exposure to silica dust, a common component in concrete, stone, ceramics, and other industrial materials. Silica is one of the most common minerals on earth and products containing it are the core of modern industry.
While visible dust is an indicator of this dangerous mineral, it is the microscopic dust you cannot see that leads to silicosis. Our body is well adapted at filtering out the larger particles, but not the submicron silicosis-causing dust. This is why dust control on the jobsite is so vital.
Silicosis occurs when we breathe the microscopic dust our respiratory system cannot filter out. This “respirable dust” migrates into our lungs and causes inflammation and scarring in the small air sacs where the blood absorbs oxygen. This inflammation not only reduces lung capacity, causing shortness of breath, but can also lead to tuberculosis and cancer.
New OSHA Rule for Containing Dangerous Silica Dust
To protect exposed workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) adopted a new Silica Rule in 2016. This rule sets the “permissible exposure levels” (PEL) for silica exposure on the jobsite at no more than 50 micrograms per square meter of air in an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA). However, the employer must take action when levels exceed 25 micrograms. By comparison, a honey bee’s brain weighs 1000 micrograms.
OSHA’s new Silica Rule mandates a dust collection system with a filter cleaning mechanism and which is able to capture 99% of the dust. Furthermore, a HEPA rated vacuum (99.97% efficiency at capturing particles greater than .3 microns) is required for dry cleanup work.
For construction, OSHA has provided a two-track system of compliance. The first and most simple is Table 1. This table lists the most common construction-related tasks where silica exposure is most likely to occur and gives the method and personal protective measure levels required to meet the PEL. If you use the designated method, no further action is required. Dustless makes a line of dust collection shrouds for grinders and drills that meet this simpler, Table 1 requirement when used with a vacuum designed to contain the collected dust.
Dustless Technologies manufactures an entire line of vacuums that meet this requirement, from the 80 CFM, 2.5 gallon HEPA Backpack Vacuum to the Wet/Dry DustlessVac and HEPA Wet/Dry DustlessVac, to the 300 and 600 CFM Dust Droid (also with HEPA filtration). When water dust suppression is required by Table 1, the Slurry Vac and Wet/Dry and HEPA Vacs are ideal to clean up the resulting slurry.
While the $12,470 fine for each serious offense is enough to get the attention of any contractor, the health, safety and productivity of you and your team can have an even bigger impact on your business in the long run.
Visit http://www.dustlesstools.com/ or contact one of our customer service representatives at (800) 568-3949 to learn more about OSHA’s Silica Rule and how we can help you achieve a truly Dustless and OSHA-compliant workplace.