Green Job Hazards
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Geo-Thermal Energy: Silica
Silica sand is a basic component of soil, sand, and granite and can be found in many concrete and masonry products. Silica can become airborne when workers chip, cut, drill, or grind objects that contain crystalline silica and workers may be exposed to many forms of silica dust. Operations like excavating or installing concrete for pump wells can expose workers to silica.
Silicosis is the permanent damage to the lungs caused by breathing the fine particles of crystalline silica dust. Silicosis can be debilitating and can lead to death. Workers in the geothermal energy industry may be exposed to cryatalline silica.
OSHA has an established Permissible Exposure Limit, or PEL, which is the maximum amount of crystalline silica to which workers may be exposed during an 8-hour shift (29 CFR 1926.55, 1910.1000). OSHA also requires hazard communication training for workers exposed to crystalline silica, and requires a respirator program until engineering controls are implemented. Additionally, OSHA has a National Emphasis Program (NEP) for Crystalline Silica exposure to identify, reduce, and eliminate health hazards associated with occupational exposures.
Additional resources below provide information on hazards of crystalline silica: