Q: I’ve been told that construction workers are now required to abide by new OSHA regulations for silica dust. Where does silica dust come from? And should DIY’ers be concerned about it?
A: Silica is nothing new. In fact, Silicon (Si) is the second most common element on earth, found naturally in a wide variety of rock and present in concrete dust. OSHA began enforcing new regulations in September 2017 for handling silica dust, because inhaling respirable crystalline silica can lead to lung disease such as silicosis. The OSHA guidelines apply to professional/commercial workers and require them to use special equipment such as respirators, wet saws, HEPA vacuums, air filters and dust-containment devices to prevent the dust from becoming airborne. Although DIY’ers aren’t regulated by OSHA, they should should still take similar safety precautions if they engage in any project that requires the cutting of concrete. The new guidelines can be found at www.osha.gov from OSHA Table 1 – Exposure Control Methods for Silica Dust.