Posts Tagged NIOSH

How should I sample to comply with OSHA’s silica dust standard?

“So, silica…”dusty

This was how many conversations started while exhibiting at conference  last week. OSHA released its rule for occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica back in March and many are still looking to understand how it will affect their business and employees.

The new rule goes into effect on June 23, 2016 and most business will have between one to five years to comply depending on industry. The new standard reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift. This is a reduction is two to five times lower than the previous PEL.

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Do we really need to fit test our respirators every year?

I get this question occasionally. It usually comes with a half smirk and a “they won’t fit any different next year.”

I assume most of them are joking (or at least I hope they are). I often mention that a person’s face changes slightly each year and that can affect how a respirator fits. NIOSH has a recently released a study verifying that point (especially those wearing N95s), which gives me something I can now point to.

So what did they want to do with the study?

NIOSH initiated it to address three primary questions:

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Minimizing your risk to infectious diseases

Whether the concern has been spurred by the recent Ebola news, Enterovirus (EV-D68), or the impending flu season, healthcare infectious control teams and first responders are currently showing a heightened awareness for the importance of personal protection gear.

But it’s also important to remember that having the proper respirator is only part of the answer. Ensuring proper wear and fit is critical in preventing the spread of infection to hospital staff, patients, and their visitors.

flugraphStatistics shown during a recent presentation from the CDC and NIOSH show that properly-fitting N95 respirators show virtually no transmission of flu virus. Even N95 respirators with poor fit will filter out approximately 86% of the virus, while surgical masks can filter out about 50% of the aerosolized influenza.

So, it may be time to consider reviewing your fit testing procedures, and making sure your fit tests are up to date, with accurate, verifyable results. Here are a couple of tips to get the best fit from your masks:

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Measuring Firearm Instructors’ Exposure to Impulse Noise on Firing Ranges

FiringRange2You hear stories about active military service people damaging their hearing during combat. But, you don’t hear the stories about the firearms instructors — and they’re around gunfire, all day, every day.

NIOSH released a new study this past summer after using its NIMS software for impulsive-noise measurement at both indoor and outdoor firing ranges. The purpose of the study was to calculate the maximum amount of weapons-fire an instructor could be exposed to per day without a significant risk of hearing loss. The study was done using several different firearms and weapons systems.

Impulsive noise is significant because unprotected exposure to high-intensity impulsive noises can cause mechanical damage to ears leading to ringing (tinnitus), temporary hearing impairment, or even permanent hearing loss. It is considered more damaging to hearing than continuous exposure to loud sounds.


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Finding the right respiratory protection for the fracking industry

An article in last month’s Industrial Safety and Hygiene News had some fairly compelling statistics about worker exposure to potentially dangerous airborne silica at hydraulic fracturing operation sites.

Of the 116 samples collected at 11 different U.S. fracking sites:

  • 47% showed silica exposures greater than the calculated OSHA PEL.
  • 79% showed silica exposures greater than the NIOSH REL of 0.05 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3).
  • 9% of all samples showed silica exposures 10 or more times the PEL, with one sample more than 25 times the PEL.
  • 31% of all samples showed silica exposures 10 or more times the REL, with one sample more than 100 times the REL.

So, how do you keep workers safe? Do you have a respiratory protection plan in place? Do you have the right safety and personal protection equipment?

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