From an OSHA Letter of Interpretation:
Scenario: An employee is dry cutting concrete in an outdoor, well-ventilated environment that creates a small amount of dust that never approaches the permissible exposure limit (PEL), and the supervisor advises the employee to put a dust mask on.
Question: Does a supervisor advising an employee to put on a dust mask constitute non-voluntary (required) use even though the generated dust amount is below the PEL?
Reply: Respiratory protection is required when such equipment is necessary to protect the health of the employee or whenever respirators are required by the employer.
In the 1960s cartoon The Flintstones, Stone Age man Fred Flintstone worked in a quarry while sitting in the open booth of a rock-crusher machine. Presumably, the animators based Fred’s booth on the open designs typical of the 1960s. If they had created it in the 2000s, however, Fred’s booth would have looked vastly different, notwithstanding the fact that his booth was atop a brontosaurus.
A new study at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) underscores the importance of anticipating respiratory disease, including black lung disease and loss of lung function, in former coal miners to allow them to receive an appropriate diagnosis and medical care.
While operating an industrial machine, a worker at MCM Precision Castings Inc. was exposed to noise levels that averaged 97 decibels, equal to the noise of a jackhammer, over his eight-hour shift. Employees of the Weston, Ohio-based company were also exposed to dangerously high noise levels and crystalline silica dust, a cause of chronic lung disease, OSHA has found.
New respirable dust regulations that are intended to reduce the incidence of black lung disease among miners take effect today, over the objections of the National Mining Association (NMA), which calls them “one-size-fits-all approach” that won’t deliver real worker protections.
The Mobile Air Shower by HalenHardy (MASHH), which removes hazardous silica dust from workers clothing during oil and natural gas completions operations, will be introduced at the Shale Insight Conference in Philadelphia on Sept. 24-26.
Black lung disease rates going in the wrong direction
August 6, 2013
Frustrated by rulemaking foot-dragging on the part of the Obama administration, West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller has introduced a bill that would impose a deadline on the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) for finalizing a proposal to reduce respirable dust limits in mines.