OSHA, NIOSH Issue Hazard Alert on Silica Exposure in Hydraulic Fracturing

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OSHA, NIOSH Issue Hazard Alert on Silica Exposure in Hydraulic Fracturing – 9/28/2012 –

OSHA and NIOSH issued a joint hazard alert to ensure that employers are properly protecting workers from silica exposure in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) operations. The hazard alert follows a cooperative study by NIOSH and industry partners, part of the “NIOSH Field Effort to Assess Chemical Exposures to Oil and Gas Extraction Workers,” that found that overexposure to airborne silica is a health hazard to those working in the fracking industry. Large quantities of silica sand are used during fracking, and NIOSH found seven primary sources of silica dust exposure during fracking operations. According to NIOSH, workers downwind of sand mover and blender operations—especially during hot loading—had the highest silica exposures.

During the agency study, NIOSH found that 47 percent of the 116 full-shift air samples showed silica exposures greater than the calculated OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL), and 79 percent of the samples showed silica exposures greater than the NIOSH recommended exposure limit (REL) of 0.05 mg/m3. The air samples were taken at 11 different fracking sites in five states: Arkansas, Colorado, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Texas.

To see OSHA’s press release click here.

For more information visit: http://www.aiha.org/news-pubs/Pages/AIHAE-ssentialConnection.aspx