The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has updated its respirable crystalline silica exposure standards in an effort to protect workers from a range of life-threatening and deadly diseases. By June 23, 2017, more than 600,000 construction-related workplaces must comply with those new standards, and Nilfisk, one of the world's leading manufacturers of professional cleaning equipment, offers the only integrated floor-to-ceiling silica dust control solution to assist them with compliance.
According to OSHA's new standards, which reduce the silica dust permissible exposure limit (PEL) to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour shift, employers must use a number of engineering controls and work practices to limit that exposure.
With its floor-to-ceiling solution, Nilfisk can help companies address controls and practices specifically related to dust containment systems, wet methods, and high-efficient particulate air (HEPA) filtrated equipment and vacuums, and help meet OSHA's requirement that all construction employers "restrict housekeeping practices that expose workers to silica where feasible alternatives are available."
"Within its standards, OSHA clearly states that housekeeping practices play a critical role in reducing silica dust exposure," said Andrew Ray, president, Americas, with Nilfisk. "With our integrated solution of Advance and Nilfisk brand products that includes industrial scrubbers, sweepers and vacuums that clean floors, walls and ceilings, Nilfisk is the only cleaning equipment manufacturer poised to most effectively assist construction companies with their OSHA compliance and positively impact worker safety as it relates to silica dust exposure."
More specifically, Nilfisk's robust offering of industrial cleaning equipment includes Advance brand scrubbers, sweepers, and combination scrubber/sweepers that allow for wet-method cleaning and that offer optional DustGuard or DustClear™ dust control technologies; and HEPA-filtered vacuums that can be connected to power tools including sanders and grinders to capture dust particles as small as 0.3 microns.
Exposure to silica dust, which in the construction field can occur when workers perform common tasks involving top soil, brick, concrete, stone, asphalt, and drywall, can cause lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease. OSHA estimates that about two million construction workers are currently exposed to respirable crystalline silica, 840,000 of them at levels that exceed the new permissible exposure limit.