Saturday, November 19, 2016

Why not? Protect Workers from Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica ..OSHA (Updated 11/20/16)

In 2011 I began to consider my personal health and safety - My Lungs! After all I was wearing, steel toe boots, gloves, safety glasses, ear protection. Why was I not thinking about my lungs? How often do we injure our lungs? Never typically! 

I began my quest with First Defense nose filters. Then moved on to two other styles over the years. Now I wear an GVS Elipse SPR457 Respirator (APR) $25.00 

While I believe in CHOICE. We are adults which can decide what level we would like to protect ourselves or others. I do believe as employers we have a RIGHT to take steps to protect our employees. Like they say - Lead By Example. Make a smart choice before it's to late. Silica Dust is a Silent Killer. 


OSHA's Final Rule to Protect Workers from Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica ......

Rule requires engineering controls to keep workers from breathing silica dust

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule to curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America's workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The rule is comprised of two standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime.
OSHA estimates that the rule will save over 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year, once its effects are fully realized. The Final Rule is projected to provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion, annually.
About 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush, or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in general industry operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Responsible employers have been protecting workers from harmful exposure to respirable crystalline silica for years, using widely-available equipment that controls dust with water or a vacuum system.

Key Provisions

  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
  • Requires employers to: use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
  • Provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health.
  • Provides flexibility to help employers — especially small businesses — protect workers from silica exposure.

Compliance Schedule

Both standards contained in the final rule take effect on June 23, 2016., after which industries have one to five years to comply with most requirements, based on the following schedule:
Construction - June 23, 2017, one year after the effective date.
General Industry and Maritime - June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date.
Hydraulic Fracturing - June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date for all provisions except Engineering Controls, which have a compliance date of June 23, 2021.

Other Great links:

• FIRST DEFENSE nose filters Rockin Walls Blog - First Defense - They work very well with filtering, they don't stick for a full day and at lunch they kind make it hard to swallow. Read more on the blog. Just think of these like sticking a band-aid on your nose. They filter very well. $9.98 set of 7 and up.

• NOSE-MASK-PIT-STOPPER, not the sexiest name. I ordered up the 14 pack. Clearly the most comfortable out of all of them. But only a 1 or 2 time use. Don't put them in your pocket. Can be purchased on Ebay/Amazon $21.99 (14 pack)

• BREATH-EZY I've been using these the MOST  over the last 2 years. They can be used more then a one time which helps save on the wallet. They take some time to get used to at first. When its cold out they sometimes will just fall out of your nose. Very easy to use and simple to store . Actually when I first bought these I ordered them up direct from Australia (quick shipping worldwide). Model # "Personal Nasal Filters" with doubly activated carbon / cellulose filters. Well worth it!! I love them. They look presentable since you don't really see them in your nose. If you decide to purchase these be sure to get the 3 size kit first to see what size you really are. 
$5.95 - 46.95

Image result for 3M™ Versaflo™ Heavy Industry PAPR Kit
TR-300-HIK - 3M Image

For those who are working with around dust all day this is most likely a wise choice. Yes you might be saying that's one heck of an investment. In this day in age you can't put a price tag on health and safety.  3M™ Versaflo™ TR-300-HIK 
Power Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR) -  is one of a few on the market of PAPR. I believe when you really think about it. WHO hasn't heard of 3M™?! So why not invest in a system which hands down is the best on the market with over all easy to operate, purchase parts, accessories and know it's backed by a leader in PPE Personal Protective Equipment. 

Hey don't worry there will not be a test on these abbreviations PAPR, PPE, PEL, OSHA, APR.....

As many of you know wearing a respirator to work has a full check list. Lets list a few: breathing hard to work the mask, safety glasses fogging up, putting everything on over respirator straps, safety glasses, ear buds for tunes (only to be used on residential jobs - not in compliance with OSHA) - or ear protection, Hat / Hard Hat. I don't know about you but I'm exhausted already by this list. BUT WAIT Theres more - hope you don't need to get a drink or talk to your client! Granted you still have to go through a few steps with a PAPR but everything is built in. Plus you can easily flip the lid if you need to speak or drink fluids. 

There are several PAPR kits offered by 3M™ - 3M™ Versaflo™ Heavy Industry PAPR Kit TR-300-HIK $1300 makes the most sense to me. Because it comes with the hard hat best suited for day to day masonry / hardscape industry. The battery life 10-12 hours.

3M Image

TR-300-LIK 3M Versaflo Light Industry PAPR Kit,  with Integrated Earmuffs $1300

TR-600-HIK 3M Versaflo Heavy Industry PAPR Kit, $2000

3M also offers some great back end video's to show you everything you need to know about your PAPR. I also found this YouTube helpful in seeing just how the unit worked.

On last thing is the use of HEPA dust collector systems. The Dewalt DWV012 10 gallon ($500.00) I (1/2018 Update- I now own one of these and love it!) or 8 gallon seem to be a great system. While I'm sure one can consider buying an expensive system well over $1000 for collecting dust.  There are some simple solutions such as purchasing a HEPA filter for your shop vac $25 & up. Yes hands down I really like how the Dewalt is set up with the cord outlet to run a tool, the long hose for ease of reach, and the hose connection system to lock into many Dewalt tools or the added step down connector included. Helping attach to your desired tool.

Of course the hi-end shop vac companies frown on this tactic. I believe one more added step can't hurt if your running a grinder or cut off saw to protect your client or the neighborhood. We all know how much stone dust a Cut-Off- Saw generates. Plus you can find all kinds of dust collectors adaptors for the tool your using.  To direct the dust into the collector system. Just one more way to be smart when working.
POWERTEC Big Gulp Dust Hood $19 Home Depot

Many thanks to:

My wife Teresa Perrera who kept telling me I was snoring ( I never snore) after a long day of walling with no protection. (I could tell just how much dust I took in because I could hardly get my nose clear and had a difficult time breathing) She told me I needed to consider better protection then just the nose filters. 

Kim Coggin Certified DSWA Waller from PA for bring to light the added risks associated to our trade when shaping stones, moving stones, working around stones. Yes anything to do with stone.  

Now with the use of respirator I can get a great night of sleep more comfortable. Think about that! 

Now go put your mask on!!


  1. Very informative. Something I've started thinking about lately. I purchased a dustless tabletop saw from IQ and will be purchasing the demo saw with a built in vacuum feature. Have you seen those?

    1. Bill yes I have. By the way I felt it was best I add this to the blog so I've now updated the info at the bottom to include some of the content including HEPA dust collection systems. We will see a lot more of this coming this year. After OSHA 2017 mandatory changes which go into effect in the years to come. Folks are just now beginning to pay more attention to key safety issues like these. Thank you for sparking the content to this blog.

  2. Great article, thanks. Will you use the air system for your whole working day or just when you work the stone with a machine tool? Is it something you will use when you are just shaping stone with a hammer? I would also like to protect my lungs but I didn't realize that the protection unless I was cutting the stone with a saw or grinder. Just trying to get an idea of when you think is a good idea to use the different systems you describe. Thanks!

    1. GREAT QUESTION, YES O'Yes... I've always been using the nose filters regardless what I'm doing on the job site. But Now with the mask or when I upgrade to the full system. I will use it in the same way. When ever I'm around stone, moving it, shaping it, building with it on the job site. Unless of course its lunch time. You just can't get away from the volume of dust stone generates. I build with a lot of quarried stone which is full of dust. So I'll take every step I can to be smarter about how I treat my body. I love stone work and started late in the trade. I need to do everything to help add some more years to my productivity rate. Got to make DSWA Master-Examiner before I retire. Thank you for taking the time to ask such a great question. True fully once you start to wear even a respirator mask you get use to it. I was worried I wouldn't like something on my face all day. I was pleasantly surprised it was ok.

  3. That mask is serious overkill for site work Mark, but if you feel better than go for it. That's a system for banker masons in a shop....all you need to be protected well is a good cartridge mask. 👍🏻