New guidance from OSHA alerts shipyard employers and their employees about abrasive blasting hazards and the controls that can be implemented to protect employees.

"This new guidance focuses on silica alternatives since most shipyards have moved away from using silica as a blasting agent," said OSHA Administrator Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. "However, alternative blasting materials may bring a different set of hazards, so we want shipyard employees and their employers to have the most up-to-date safety and health information possible."

The new guidance also addresses the specific air contaminants that employees may be exposed to during abrasive blasting. Other abrasive blasting safety and health hazards are discussed and recommendations on how to avoid these occupational hazards, such as engineering controls, the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), exposure monitoring, medical surveillance and training on the OSHA Hazard Communication and PPE standards.

OSHA also recommends that employers perform an inspection of the worksite to identify additional hazards, such as excessive noise, static electricity, confined spaces, heat exposure and fall hazards. The guidance also encourages employers to research each of the discussed hazards, as well as understand the suggested preventative measures and the abatement that has been detailed in the guidance.