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Fri Aug 23, 2013, 02:39 PM

Gov't seeks new limits on silica dust

Source: Associated Press

Aug 23, 2:22 PM EDT

Gov't seeks new limits on silica dust

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal regulators are proposing a long-awaited rule that would dramatically limit workplace exposure to silica dust.

Officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration say the new limits would save nearly 700 lives each year and prevent thousands of illnesses, including cancer and lung disease.

The rule would cut in half the amount of silica exposure currently allowed for general industry and maritime workers. It would cut it by 80 percent in the construction industry. The dust is often found at construction sites, glass manufacturing plants and hydraulic fracturing operations.

Workplace safety groups have urged OSHA for years to set new exposure limits, saying they would protect lives. Industry groups contend that lower limits are not necessary and will be too difficult and costly to measure for thousands of businesses.

Read more: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_SILICA_DUST_LIMITS?SECTION=HOME&SITE=AP&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

(Short article, no more at link.)

7 replies, 1972 views

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Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
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Arrow 7 replies Author Time Post
Reply Gov't seeks new limits on silica dust (Original post)
Judi Lynn Aug 2013 OP
PDJane Aug 2013 #1
wysimdnwyg Aug 2013 #2
Adam051188 Aug 2013 #3
Hassin Bin Sober Aug 2013 #6
Posteritatis Aug 2013 #7
ConcernedCanuk Aug 2013 #4
mahatmakanejeeves Aug 2013 #5

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 02:41 PM

1. It's more than overdue. We've known about the dangers for at least a century.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 02:59 PM

2. [Insert new OSHA rule here]

"Industry groups contend that lower limits are not necessary and will be too difficult and costly to measure for thousands of businesses."

Like they ever say anything different, regardless of the newly proposed regulation. They'd say the same thing if there was a new regulation to eliminate fires within two feet of a gas pump.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Response to Adam051188 (Reply #3)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 11:53 AM

6. I don't think drywall produces silica dust.

Silica comes from cement and stone products.

Silicosis is also called grinders disease.

Silica is much more dangerous because it is so damn fine. It makes its way all the way in to your lungs.

You aren't doing yourself any favors breathing drywall dust but silica is much worse.

I really need to get myself a good respirator mask. I cut cement board with a grinder once in a while. Stuff is nasty. I only cut it outside and try to position myself so it blows away from me. I've seen guys use box fans on their cutting tables.

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Response to Adam051188 (Reply #3)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 08:24 PM

7. That sort of thing's enforced in my neck of the woods by random job site inspections

Health and safety inspector shows up at a work site and people don't have proper PPE, they get fined, their foreman or supervisor gets fined a larger amount, and the company they work for gets fined a considerably larger amount. Someone gets dinged by any tier of that process and they're going to start taking it seriously.

I certainly don't think "provide workers with dust masks that might as well be free compared to the rest of the job's equipment costs" is an even slightly unreasonable thing to expect from construction companies. The last place I was at managed not to, but a few of the incoming project managers worked for companies that did; led to me spending my last year or so there, as my second hat, handling the company inventory to make sure everyone had job-appropriate protective gear at all times. I don't miss that industry, but keeping that running smoothly was rewarding, and certainly good for the labour crews.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 10:58 PM

4. As a previous Occupational Health And Safety Coordinator, I can speak to this



FYI - I was on the Employee side of the fence.

Back in the 90's, while working at CP Rail, I studied various items regarding their safety for the employees, reading the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) as well as warnings on different products.

I brought to the attention of the supervisors that floor dry (used to soak up oil/antifreeze/gas spills etc.) , basically the same as cat litter (without the perfume) contained dangerous amounts of silica.

The supervisors poo-pooed my concerns, but after I brought the issue up at our regular safety meetings in front of the whole work force, they switched quickly to a "green" floor dry - totally safe.

Here's something for cat-lovers to consider.

Read on:

The Hidden Dangers of Cat Litter



Popular among many cat owners, some clumping litters can be downright dangerous to cats. Many litters contain a compound known as sodium bentonite as the clumping agent, which expands to 15 to 18 times its dry size when wet. Cats lick their paws, especially after being in the litter box, and can get internal blockages from the dust alone. Many cats and kittens eat litter. This can have deadly consequences as the litter swells in the intestines, especially in kittens. If you use litter with sodium bentonite and your cat experiences constipation, muscle weakness or lethargy, get them to a vet ASAP.

Ever worried as you pour litter into the litter box if that dust swirling up is harmful? Many cat litters contain quartz silica. Silica dust is a known carcinogen, which can cause respiratory problems, some as serious as lung cancer, in your cat. Although there are no known studies on the effect of silica dust from cat litter on humans, many guess it could very well have the same effect on us.

There are other, but more expensive cat litters out there, such a silica gel -

check with a pet store provider, or do a google for safe products


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Aug 26, 2013, 09:46 AM

5. From OSHA:

Last edited Mon Aug 26, 2013, 02:44 PM - Edit history (8)

US Department of Labor’s OSHA announces proposed rule to protect workers exposed to crystalline silica

Crystalline Silica Rulemaking

This is the first step in a long process.

This 1938 video features former Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins (1933-1945), and describes both the hazards associated with silica exposure and the U.S. Department of Labor's early efforts to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women. Although tremendous progress has been made since this video was produced, evidence indicates that a substantial number of workers still suffer from silica-related diseases.

This video is available for download at http://archive.org/details/StopSilicosis

Here's one reason for the concern in 1938:

Disaster clouded in mystery

August 7, 2011
Disaster clouded in mystery

By C.V. Moore Register-Herald Reporter

It has been called the most deadly industrial disaster in United States history, and it happened right here in southern West Virginia. In 1935, Union Carbide completed a massive, 3-mile-long tunnel that diverted water from a dam on the New River at Hawks Nest, through Gauley Mountain, to a hydroelectric plant near Gauley Bridge.

The purpose of the project was to provide additional electricity to Union Carbide’s metallurgical plant in Alloy, but when it was discovered that Gauley Mountain was rich in silica, the tunnel project also doubled as a silica mine. Silica, as it happens, is a mineral that is used in the production of steel alloy.

The majority of workers who drilled the tunnel were African American migrant workers from the south. They came to West Virginia because they heard there were jobs here, a rarity in the Depression-era U.S.

Water still flows through the Hawks Nest Tunnel, but information on the fate of the men who built it hasn’t always flowed so freely. What happened to their bodies is a mystery that is still unraveling. Some were buried in the slave section of a churchyard in Summersville; some in unmarked graves near Gauley Bridge; and some in a cornfield in Nicholas County. Racist thinking at the time made disposal of bodies difficult. Rumors of burials in the woods, and even at the mouth of the tunnel, have circulated for years.

—E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com

Hawks Nest Tunnel Disaster

Final rest for forgotten victims of industrial tragedy

Friday September 7, 2012
by Zack Harold
Daily Mail staff

Charlotte Yeager Neilan moved to Summersville from Charleston in 1990, where she and her late husband, Charles, became editor and publisher of the Nicholas Chronicle newspaper. ... About 10 years ago, Neilan heard rumors of a lost cemetery for Hawks Nest tunnel workers. The story piqued her interest but no one wanted to talk about it.

Finally, in 2009, she heard about Richard Hartman, a West Virginia State University history professor. He also was haunted by the story of the lost graveyard but, unlike Neilan, had actually located the plot.

Hundreds dead

Hartman first learned of the site in 2000 while working on a master's degree in history at Marshall University.

He was writing a paper about tunnel contractor Rinehart and Dennis when he came across a passage about black workers buried on the White family farm.

Confined Space Google Group

From: Jordan Barab <jbarab@gmail.com>

To: confinedspace@googlegroups.com

This Charleston Gazette article chronicles one of the most tragic stories in the history of workplace safety (or workplace murder): The death of 764 mostly African-American workers from exposure to silica while digging a tunnel in West Virginia in the early 1930's. You can also view a short video clip about the disaster (which also stars Rush Holt's father – who was then a Senator from WV):

It's taken from a 27 minute video called "Can't Take No More," which you can view on Google Video here:

Hawks Nest worker graves lay forgotten for decades

(If you try to link to the article, you'll get a "Page Not Found" message."

February 24, 2008
Hawks Nest worker graves lay forgotten for decades

SUMMERSVILLE - As traffic roared along U.S. 19 atop a nearby embankment, Richard Hartman strolled through a narrow, trash-strewn finger of land nestled between the freeway and a turnaround for a dead-end secondary road.

By Rick Steelhammer
Staff writer

{snip the article}

To contact staff writer Rick Steelhammer, use e-mail or call 348-5169.

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