ASSP and the AGC have their First Joint Meeting in October 2018 on Air Sampling for the Silica Standard

By Renee Witherspoon, CSP, CIH, CHMM, Past President ASSP SPC

Deborah Dietrich, CIH, Senior VP, Sales and Marketing and Corporate Industrial Hygienist with SKC in Houston demonstrating pump calibration.

On October 16, members of the West Texas Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and the South Plains Chapter of the ASSP met at the Prosperity Bank Conference Center in Lubbock to learn more about OSHA’s new Silica Standard and air sampling.

Our special guest speaker was Debbie Dietrich, CIH, SKC Corporate Industrial Hygienist. Dan Kenner, SKC Corporate Technical Sales Representative was also present to answer questions regarding the equipment and assist with the hands on demonstration. Cassie Hughes with the West Texas Chapter of the AGC assisted in organizing the event.

Ms. Dietrich’s presentation concentrated on the air sampling aspect of the OSHA Final Rule on Respirable Crystalline Silica and how to properly evaluate silica levels to better control this hazard.

As a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), she stated that air sampling is “as easy as 1-2-3,” and explained that there are three critical components in air sampling – a pump, a calibrator, and a sampling device. For silica sampling this can be a cyclone with air sampling cassette or the new SKC Disposable Parallel Particle Impactor (PPI) Sampler

She emphasized that OSHA’s exposure limit was significantly reduced with the new standard, essentially “cut in half.”  Now employers much ensure that no employee

Debbie Dietrich, CIH demonstrates pump calibration to meeting attendees. (L to R) Darla Gravatt, Llano Masonry; Debbie Dietrich, SKC; Chandi Revanna, CIH, Texas Tech University EH&S; and Freddie Reyna, CSHO, R2M Engineering

is exposed to a concentration of silica greater than 50 micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air (µg/m3) as an 8-hour time-weighted average.

“If you work in the construction industry,” according to Dietrich, “consult the famous Table 1 for help with compliance.” The “good news” she said was that it “allows employers to use specified dust control measures instead of air sampling for defined work tasks.”  The “not so good news” was that there were “only eighteen tasks or control measures that are currently listed.” Fortunately, she says that, “OSHA plans to expand the list.”

She went on to say that employers can either use the control methods established in Table 1, or they can measure workers’ exposure to silica using good industrial hygiene practices and then decide which dust controls work best to limit exposures.

Regardless of which exposure control method is used, OSHA requires all construction employers covered by the silica standard to:

  • Establish and implement a written exposure control plan.
  • Designate a competent person to implement the written exposure control plan.
  • Restrict housekeeping practices that expose workers to silica where feasible alternatives are available.
  • Offer medical exams including chest X-rays and lung function tests every three years for workers who are required by the standard to wear a respirator for 30 or more days per year.
  • Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and ways to minimize exposure.
  • Keep records of exposure measurements, objective data, and medical exams.

At the end of her presentation she had a hands-on demonstration of best practices in air sampling including the importance of proper calibration of the equipment.  All of the attendee’s had an opportunity to become familiar with the equipment and new PPI sampling device. Following the meeting, each attendee received a training certificate.

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The South Plains Chapter would like to sincerely thank Debbie and Dan with SKC for their excellent presentation and hands-on demonstration.  We also appreciate Cassie and all of our new friends at the West Texas Chapter of ACG for helping us host this important training event.

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