The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will enforce a significant reduction in the amount of silica that workers can be exposed to beginning September 23.
The amount of silica dust that workers can be exposed to over an eight-hour day is being reduced from 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 50 micrograms. Employers must provide vacuum dust collection systems and water-delivery systems to limit worker exposure. In some cases, respirators might also be required.
Power tool manufacturers have developed products and systems to meet OSHA requirements. The focus has been on developing better dust extractors and attachments, such as shrouds, to capture dust at the source.
According to estimates, 2.3 million U.S. workers are exposed to respirable silica dust at work each year.