Breaking news in the safety industry

Those working in the fracking industry are at risk from silica dust.

Those in mining and construction may be familiar with silicosis, but it would be no surprise if others are not. Silicosis is a lung disease that can be caused by exposure to silica dust and is breaking ground in the news as of late.

What is silica dust?
Silica dust is often a product on sites where sandblasting, fracking and rock cutting is conducted.1 These particles are 100 times smaller than a grain of sand, making them difficult to avoid while on the job. It also makes it easy for silica to make its way into a person's lungs. The results can be deadly and include:2

  • Lung cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Kidney disease

Not to mention, most workers who are exposed to high levels of silica dust are often unable to work. As a result, their finances and families suffer.

Who's at risk?
There are nearly 2.2 million American workers who are at risk of suffering fatal disease due to exposure of silica dust on the job. These individuals are comprised of those who work with:

  • Brick
  • Concrete
  • Gas
  • Motor
  • Oil
  • Rock
  • Some industrial sands
  • Stone

There's no doubt that the range of industries that deal with this products is wide. So, it's about time that something be done to prevent exposure and dangers related to the substance.

What's being done?
Currently, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is working to pass a proposed rule that will limit the amount of silica dust exposure allowed on job sites. If this passes, it would limit the exposure to 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air.3

OSHA estimates that the guidelines could prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis and save up to 700 lives annually. This progress has been in the making for some time, but there has also been a great deal of backlash from the affected industries. In order to follow OSHA's guidelines, it is estimated that changes to production will cost companies an additional $550 to $1,242 each year. But with the proposed changes, the firms will be brought up to par with 21st-century safety.

Firms, health care professionals and individuals can buy medical supplies from Medex Supply Company. Inventory includes, but is not limited to:

1 LiveScience, "Clearing the pathway: deadly lung disease can be prevented (op-ed)" September 11, 2013
2 United States Department of Labor, "Crystalline silica rulemaking"
3 Federal Register, "Occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica" September 12, 2013

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