Case Studies

Know the Facts on OSHA’s New Silica Dust Standards

When it comes to OSHA’s new silica dust standards, it’s critical to know the facts. While there are some vacuum manufacturers trying to scare consumers into buying specific features, there is no truth to any claims that OSHA requires a specific feature on the vacuum. Companies trying to twist the new standard to sell equipment are not doing the new standard nor anyone who it affects any favors. Always remember to ask questions, and learn to decipher the truth from a sales pitch. Below is an FAQ on what OSHA’s new silica standards actually do require:

Q: What is required to be in compliance with the new OSHA silica standards?
A: Determine if you have fine silica dust and if the rule applies to you. If yes, then follow Table 1 or follow Alternative Exposure Controls.
Note: Table 1 lists 18 of the most common tasks using various types of tools found at construction sites.

Q: What does following Table 1 require?
A: It requires you to…
     • Provide a dust collector specific for your tool in accordance to Table 1 requirements
     • Provide respiratory protection
     • Do proper housekeeping
     • Have a written exposure control plan
     • Provide medical surveillance to all employees that have to wear a respirator for more than 30 days
     • Communicate hazards with proper training to all employees engaged in the task
     • Assign a competent person to maintain record keeping

Q: What is a written exposure control plan?
A: This document is required for every individual piece of equipment on the job site that is listed on Table 1. This document clearly defines the controls, work practices, respiratory protection, housekeeping and Procedures used to restrict access to work areas.

Q: How do I know which vacuum to use?
A: Consult your local salesperson for a copy of the “written exposure control plan” for your specific equipment.

Q: What kind of filtration is required when using my vacuums as a dust collector on equipment listed on Table 1?
A: The vacuums must have a filter that is 99% efficient or greater and have a filter cleaning mechanism.

Q: Do my vacuums require HEPA filtration?
A: If using the vacuums as a dust collector for point of source extraction on a piece of equipment list in table 1 then they do not require HEPA filters. If using a vacuum for housekeeping or to collect dust off the floor between passes then they do require HEPA filtration.

Q: I’ve been told that vacuums cannot have dust pans and must be direct bagger only. Is this true?
A: No. There is no direct mention of how the dust must be collected. In fact the examples OSHA uses in the Small Entity Guide are drum vacs and vacuums with pans. There is however a need to bag the dust prior of discarding the material into the trash. You are responsible to keep the dust contained even after you have thrown it away. You can no longer throw loose dust into a dumpster and if using some of the thinner plastic or paper vacuum bags that are notorious for ripping then you should double bag them to insure they do not break in the dumpster.

Q: Do my vacuums require reverse pulse filter cleaning or motorized shaker systems?
A: Vacuums used as both dust collectors and for housekeeping are required to have a filter cleaning mechanism. OSHA does not define any specific mechanism or features of the mechanism. The filter cleaning mechanism must be able to be used by the operator without exposing the operator to the dirty filter.

Q: I was told I need 25 CFM per diameter of shroud. Is that true for my large grinder?
A: The 25 CFM for inch of blade is for hand-held tools only and measures the blade diameter not shroud diameter. Your vacuum is required to maintain the CFM required during use so make sure to oversize the vacuum to accommodate the friction loss in the hose and with a dirty filter.

Q: Are Ruwac vacuums in compliance?
A: Yes, as long as you are sizing the right vacuum to the right piece of equipment.

Q: How are Ruwac vacuums compliant?
A: All of Ruwac’s Redline WNS & WS Series portable vacuums have always included our MicroClean filter which are 99% efficient @ 0.5 microns and a filter cleaning mechanism that allows the operators to clean the filters from the outside of the vacuum without being exposed to the dust. All of our Ruwac vacuums are module and can be upgraded to HEPA regard less of the size or age of the equipment. All of our vacuums have a dust pan that is easily emptied into a plastic bag for dust free emptying.

For more information about Ruwac vacuums for concrete and silica dust, visit our applications page.