Is Managing Crystalline Silica (Concrete Dust) important?


The reality in today’s world is that your company can be held responsible for everything that goes on during its construction, operation, and output, including waste disposal. Liability is just a phone call away from a lawyer or inspector!

As you’re well aware, safety is one of the highest liability items you’re faced with. One safety concern that has flown under the radar for years, but has recently been vigorously enforced, is exposure to respirable crystalline silica, especially on construction jobsites and in plant operations. Even something as simple as sweeping your floors has risk.

What is respirable crystalline silica? It’s sand. Sand so small, it’s suspended in the air, then breathed into the lungs of everyone around the source. Far and away the largest source is from concrete work. But it can also come from diverse operations involving sand or from cutting or grinding items containing sand. If you’re lucky enough to be tasked with reading and understanding the OSHA regulation, you’ll see mention of terms such as ‘particle size’, ‘concentration’, and ‘8-hour time-weighted average’, all in a sea of legaleze and regulator speak. Good luck wading those waters!

So you may be wondering what this has to do with polishing or coating your concrete, after all, that’s why you came to our site. It turns out a lot. Not many contractors are aware of this regulation and the consequences it brings. Unfortunately, many times when they are rudely made aware of it by a routine OSHA inspection, their customer, maybe you, is brought along for the ride.

Zefco Industrial Flooring and OSHA

In light of this, what should you be thinking about? Our customers have told us they make sure their contractors are well-versed on OSHA Table 1 requirements, have gone through the rigorous training necessary to be compliant, and have made the investment in equipment necessary to keep plant people out of trouble. Not only do they say they sleep a little better, but compliance comes with the added benefit of keeping our customer’s plants a little cleaner while we’re there.