<<Stakeholder Meetings


SUMMARY OF OSHA SILICA STAKEHOLDERS COMMENTS
CHICAGO, IL.
SESSION 2 - June 3, 1998
12:00- 4:30




The format of the stakeholder sessions followed the questions in a stakeholder document that is also available on the Web page. There were four general areas of discussion: scope, controlling exposures to crystalline silica, monitoring and sampling, and screening and surveillance.


ISSUE 1: Scope

One stakeholder stated that foundry industry concerns include:

  • OSHA should make clear which standards apply to maintenance and demolition within a factory.
  • OSHA should make the SEP data available as soon as possible.
  • A 50 percent reduction in the PEL will have a great impact on foundry operations.
  • There is a need for good epidemiological studies to determine the effect of short-term, high level exposures, latency period and the effect of other dusts and fibers. A major issue for the industry is short-term, high exposure tasks.
  • Nearly all jobs have some silica exposure, large castings operations (particularly cleaning) cannot meet the current PEL. The industry is concerned that this standard will be similar to the lead standard - the PEL in not achievable, citations result, and there is a lengthy negotiation over what is actually feasible.
  • The analytical methods cannot detect silica at 0.05 mg/m3 [mg = milligrams].
  • In some operations reducing exposure using engineering controls is not feasible and the use of respirators in such operations is "industry standard."


Over 15 operations in foundries where silica exposures occur include:

  • Core making,
  • Shake out,
  • Transport,
  • Casting and sand molding,
  • Casting cleaning,
  • Relining furnace.


The foundry industry is a very diverse industry with castings ranging from small parts to up to 60,000 pounds, and for the latter there are no engineering controls for grinding operations.

Sampling followed by laboratory analysis is not real time analysis and provides only a "snapshot in time." Measuring total particulate is not an adequate test.

One stakeholder that did not represent any one industry noted that:

  • Silica is ubiquitous, more people are affected by a silica standard than would be affected by an ergonomics standard.
  • The first order of business must be to identify all of the affected industries.
  • Enforcement of the current standard is inadequate.


The stakeholder from the foundry industry stated that many companies have tried to comply with the SEP but feel that they may be discouraged in their efforts if OSHA continues to "raise the bar" for judging their performance.

A stakeholder from the demolition industry stated that exposures in this industry occur during:

  • Saw cutting,
  • Jack hammering,
  • Chipping,
  • Demolition of walls and floors,
  • Disposal (exposure of disposal truck drivers),
  • Machine operations (bob-cats, cranes, etc.),
  • Explosive demolition.


A stakeholder from the masonry renovation industry (tuckpointing) noted that silica exposures occur during grinding and jack hammering. The stakeholder stated that these operations meet the current PEL but would not be in compliance if the PEL were lower. Full-facepiece respirators are currently in use for tuckpointing operations.

Other stakeholders from the construction industry stated the following:

  • A separate standard for construction is necessary because many engineering controls are not useful in construction operations.
  • The rule should address specific operations in construction such as equipping grinders with vacuum equipment or requiring grinding to be done wet.
  • Disposable respirators should be prohibited. (Other stakeholders disagreed and stated that disposable respirators are better accepted by workers.)
  • Respirators may not be an effective control for construction because beards (facial hair) are common and the workforce is transient, making fit testing and medical qualification difficult.
  • 70-80 percent of construction work is preformed outside where dust is an inherent problem.
  • Small "mom and pop" construction firms do not know how to comply.


One stakeholder from the transportation industry (road construction) noted that general construction is very different from transportation, but that these two sectors share the same workforce. He noted enforcement in the public sector is inconsistent when compared to the private sector. This tends to create confusion.

A stakeholder representing small employers in the foundry industry sector noted that:

  • Substantial diversity exists in the foundry industry.
  • Foundries that produce small castings are more likely to be able to comply using engineering controls. Such operations are becoming highly automated because of foreign competition and the changes that occurred because of OSHA's lead standard. The lead standard may have forced some types of foundries off shore. The stakeholder expressed concern that the silica standard may have similar effects.
  • Automation may be impossible for foundries that specialize in large castings.
  • A large number of establishments in the foundry sector are small foundries.
  • The money available for hiring consultants and implementing engineering solutions to exposure problems is limited by foreign competition.
  • Owners of small businesses may have less education and may have a more difficult time understanding the regulations.
  • Treating the whole foundry industry the same way will hurt small foundries.


One stakeholder from the refractory ceramic industry noted that exposure to cristobalite is a problem.

ISSUE 2: Controlling Exposures

The stakeholder representing a union in the construction trades stated that his organization presents silicosis training to its members free of charge.

A stakeholder from the automotive foundry industry stated that its partnership with the UAW had allowed better, more effective controls. The stakeholder requested that the PEL not be reduced to 50 ug/m3 [ug = micrograms]. Of over 500 silica samples collected before 1997, 11.3 percent were greater than 50 ug/m3 and 4.2 percent exceeded 100 ug/m3. Of samples collected since 1997, 5.8 percent were greater than 50 ug/m3 and 2.2 percent exceeded 100 ug/m3. Based on these data the stakeholder stated that even with a good silica exposure control program, some areas of his operations could not comply consistently with the 100 ug/m3 current PEL (this PEL assumes the dust is 100 percent silica.) He further stated that his program was designed to respond each time the 100 ug/m3 PEL was exceeded. This stakeholder presented a written program based on OSHA's silica emphasis program (SEP) but was not a participant in the SEP. This stakeholder stated that there was no mandatory use of respirators in his foundry and that dust masks are adequate.

Another stakeholder from the foundry industry (jobbing foundry) stated that:

  • Administrative controls are not useful since most of the workers are skilled labor that cannot be removed from the process area.
  • The use of engineering controls for those foundries that cast very large pieces is not feasible.
  • Respirators must be used in some areas.
  • There is no substitute for sand in foundries, especially those that produce large castings.
  • His company performed medical examinations.
  • Engineering controls have been installed.
  • Worker isolation is used.
  • The state performs his company's exposure monitoring.
  • Exposure levels still "bounce around the current PEL."
  • Where needed, employees use respirators.


The stakeholder noted that his firm was a mass production foundry with sufficient size and resources to allow the best control measures and was still unable to achieve 50 ug/m3. He expressed concern that small job-shops could certainly not achieve compliance with such a low PEL This stakeholder questioned the need for the standard since his company had never had a case of silicosis.

A stakeholder from the mining industry stated that:

  • The cabs on drills and shovels were pressurized with filtered, recirculated air.
  • HEPA filters are not being used, a filter that filters 99.5 percent of particles is much better, sturdier and more readily cleaned. He claims that HEPA filters do not work well because they clog up quickly
  • Guidance on how much pressure should be maintained in the cab would be helpful.
  • Changing filters on cabs is one source of exposure.
  • There is a need for real-time monitoring within the cabs to show a filtering systems efficacy.


A small business stakeholder that manufactures refractories stated that:

  • There have been no cases of silicosis in his establishment.
  • There is no substitute for silica in refractory manufacturing operations.
  • Medical examinations are provided for employees; all receive chest x-rays.
  • Engineering controls, particularly work area isolation, are heavily relied upon.
  • Employee exposure monitoring has been performed by the state workers' compensation program.
  • Exposure levels are usually 1-1.5 times the current PEL. While they are near the PEL, achieving compliance with a reduced PEL would be more difficult.
  • All employees are required to use respirators (Survivair, half-mask respirator, model P-100) when they are in silica areas. There is no reason to use a more rigorous respirator.
  • Silica exposures have been reduced substantially over the last 10 to 15 years.


A stakeholder representing the demolition industry stated that:

  • Employees in his firm receive 8 hours of training in the use of respirators out of a total of 40 hours provided by a trade association. The association also provides training and education to employees on the hazards of exposure to silica.
  • Wet methods are the best control method for demolition operations.
  • Half-mask respirators equipped with HEPA filters are also used for demolition work on concrete.

This stakeholder stated that exposure monitoring conducted over the last two years showed only two cases in excess of the current PEL and that therefore a reduction in the PEL by half would be acceptable.

A stakeholder from the construction industry noted that bystander exposure is a significant concern. He described a case in which a tuckpointer was working in an occupied building where the building owner was reluctant to shut down the HVAC system, thus potentially exposing the building occupants.

A stakeholder from the transportation construction (road building) stated that wet methods are not feasible during road building and that aggregates must be used. He stated that most silica -generating operations are short-term cutting operations that are outdoors where engineering controls are thought to be infeasible. Employees use safety equipment and respirators and stay upwind of the dust.

A industrial hygiene consultant who had worked in the construction industry noted that jack hammering in an enclosed area resulted in exposures 2-3 times the current PEL. Using proper controls such as HEPA-filtered ventilation equipment and water mists resulted in exposures that were less than the limit of detection (LOD) for the sampling and analytical method used.

A stakeholder from the foundry industry stated that his firm had spent $100,000 and still could not achieve compliance with the current PEL. He stated that substitutes for silica are available in very few cases and that sometimes the substitute is more toxic (for example some substitutes contain nickel). He noted that wet methods do not work in foundries.

A stakeholder from the masonry construction industry suggested that anyone using wet methods should be provided a "safety harbor" under the standard.

A stakeholder that did not represent any specific industry sector requested that OSHA make available BLS data on silicosis and the SEP data. He further indicated that the PAT results for silica were a significant issue and that, as a result, all monitoring results are questionable. Finally this stakeholder suggested that OSHA reverse the hierarchy of controls and allow the use of respiratory protection before all feasible engineering, work practice and administrative controls are instituted.

Another stakeholder representing foundries stated that:

  • The training required under OSHA's HAZCOM standard is sufficient.
  • Not all operations can be enclosed.
  • The use of respirators is critical during maintenance.
  • Periodic cleaning of foundry facilities using "blow down"is needed.
  • Change rooms and protective clothing are not needed since no cases of take-home silicosis have been identified.
  • Regulated areas are easily established except during intermittent operations (infeasible).


A stakeholder from the construction industry stated that the cutting of masonry and concrete poses the biggest exposure problem. Wet methods are useful, but not in the winter months. He was concerned that EPA would regulate chemical dust suppressants. Standing up-wind and using respirators were cited as applicable controls.

A stakeholder from the foundry sector stated that used sand is an industrial waste and his concern was that EPA would regulate its disposal since silica is a category 1A carcinogen according to IARC.

ISSUE 3: Monitoring and Sampling

One stakeholder raised general issues that were not associated with any particular industry sector. He stated that:

  • Monitoring and sampling presents significant feasibility problems.
  • Inter-laboratory comparisons shows huge variability among labs
  • The statistical variability is high for silica analysis.


He further stated that, in his opinion, no feasible monitoring method that produces reliable and meaningful data exists and that a standard cannot move forward without improved monitoring methods.

Stakeholders from the construction industry noted that representative sampling is problematic because the job is often finished before results come back from the laboratory. They further stated that:

  • Small contractors do not have access to industrial hygienists and safety experts.
  • Monitoring is done on some jobs and is used on subsequent jobs as historical data.
  • Intermittent operations pose the biggest obstacle in monitoring employee exposures during construction activities.
  • Using respirators is the answer to intermittent operations.
  • Small employers do not know anything about the risks of silica.


A stakeholder from the foundry industry stated:

  • There is no method for providing real-time monitoring.
  • Real-time monitoring is needed because it takes too long to hire a consultant, collect samples and receive results from a laboratory (typically 5-6 weeks).
  • Laboratories that conduct air quality analysis are difficult to find, and many are not well qualified.
  • Contractors typically select a laboratory based on price alone.


One industrial hygienist who provides services to the construction industry stated that he has provided training on monitoring techniques to contractors and while few (only about one-fourth) performed their own monitoring, they were better able to hire competent consultants and make better use of historical data. He stated that the use of historical data is necessary in construction.

A stakeholder representing an analytical laboratory stated:

  • Standard reference materials are critical to the analysis. NIST must be urged to resume providing such standards in the near future.
  • The most recent PAT round (136) had an acceptable range of 40-150 ug/m3. This wide range of variability must be improved.
  • Respirable dust sampling is the most misunderstood method. Many consultants do not know the method and have little experience with it.


One stakeholder from the demolition industry suggested that:

  • Monitoring should be performed to represent the worst-case scenario.
  • Employee rotation should not be allowed in the construction industry.
  • The use of historical data in construction is essential because the job is done before the results are available. He suggested a database of exposure monitoring results from member companies could provide such data.


A stakeholder from the foundry industry stated that frequent process changes in foundries would affect the amount of monitoring needed. This stakeholder's monitoring program includes:

  • Annual walk-around hazard assessment,
  • Review of historical data,
  • Collection of 100 representative samples on high exposure operations at a cost of $8,000-$10,000 for sample analysis. Typically the cost of labor to collect the samples was $200-$250 per sample.


He further stated that:

  • Quarterly sampling similar to that required un the lead standard was not appropriate since it was a waste of professional time.
  • Similarly, sampling on all shifts was also a waste of time.
  • A large change in silica monitoring methods could negate historical data and cause initial monitoring to be performed needlessly.


Another foundry stakeholder related that he recently spent $7,000 for a consultant to collect 15-20 samples over a two-day period. He also noted that even certified industrial hygienists do not understand respirable dust sampling.

Another stakeholder suggested that OSHA recognize the effects of newly fractured silica and that an action level may not be feasible if labs do not have sufficiently low limit of detection.

ISSUE 4: Medical Surveillance

A stakeholder addressed general medical surveillance issues as follows:

  • Pulmonary tests and chest x-rays every three years.
  • Medical removal Protection (MRP) is inappropriate since silicosis is irreversible. Employers should not reassign employees but should refer them to workers' compensation.


A stakeholder from the foundry industry stated that his firm provides annual x-rays and pulmonary function tests (PFTs) due to requirements of his insurance carrier but feels that this is too frequent. The cost is $80-$100 per employee. Of 800 employees only one silicosis case was identified. This employee was placed on workers' compensation and was followed for only 1 year.

Another stakeholder noted that the average cost for medical surveillance is $150 per employee. He stated concern that B readers are hard to find and still make some mistakes in identifying silica-related disease. He further stated that tuberculosis testing is not specific to silica exposure and could, therefore, lead to false positives.

A stakeholder representing the construction industry stated that no medical surveillance is performed for silica -- only medical examinations required for asbestos removal are provided. Since many construction workers are "leased workers" or are hired from the union hall, medical surveillance is difficult. He noted that many unions do no allow pre-hire testing and expressed concern that the Americans with Disabilities Act could prevent pre-employment medical testing.

A Stakeholder from the foundry industry noted that smoking is an issue that affects medical surveillance.

A stakeholder from the demolition industry stated that medical examinations cost $150 per employee and will cost $120 more if x-rays are required.

OTHER ISSUES

Stakeholders raised the following additional issues:

  • A stakeholder noted that the action level was not useful for other hazards except in Lead and Carbon Monoxide where the health changes begin at the action level.
  • In the interest of fairness, all employees should be covered by the standard.
  • Is it fair to require seasonal employers to achieve the same level of compliance as full-time employers?
  • Imposing the use of PPE in some hot operations such as foundries may increase risks
  • The use of personal protective equipment may be the only method for reducing exposures in construction.
  • Given the number of concerns raised by the stakeholders, the process of developing a new standard should not be rushed.