CMU School of Drama

Thursday, April 13, 2017

OSHA Silica Dust Permissible Exposure Limit 2016 Update

www.protoolreviews.com/news: OSHA has just announced that the planned enforcement of the new regulations has been moved from June 23, 2017 to September 23, 2017 – another 3 months of (wait for it) breathing room before you have to be in compliance.

4 comments:

Julian Goldman said...

I think it is important for people working in the theater industry to know about these kinds of things, since we tend to work with a wide range of unusual materials. I’m pretty aware of the dangers of silica, since you have to be careful of it when it comes to ceramics because there is a lot of silica in clay, so if you don’t keep everything clean/ if you let clay dust get in the air, you end up inhaling silica. Additionally, mixing glazes from scratch requires pure silica powder. I can imagine it would be pretty easy for someone to decide to use a material they haven’t worked with before, not realizing it contains a high amount of silica, and cut it without protecting their lungs from the dust. In the case of silica, that wouldn’t be that big of a deal (though it certainly wouldn’t be a good thing), since most of the major risks come from a large amount of long term exposure, but the point isn’t the silica itself, the point is that in the theater industry I think we often aren’t as aware of the materials we are working with and the risks associated, and I think one way we can be more aware of that is by trying to be generally aware of common dangerous materials that we are likely to come into contact with.

Marisa Rinchiuso said...

This article was very informative but seemed to lack additional information needed to outsiders. It was very clear that the reasons that OSHA decided to restrict PEL exposure further was to help decrease chances of cancer for construction workers. The listing of different organs affected was quite numerous and had a particularly jarring affect by being modeled inside of a person's figure. However, what did not seem clear to me was the different between the 2016 regulations and 2017's that is being postponed. The way it was explained it seemed as if back in 2016 they had already made the switch from 250 mg to 50mg. That change seemed incredibly drastic and I wondered if that restricted work that can be done, or if that now just requires more employees. In addition, I hoped to find out what these new restrictions meant in terms of everyday life. Do this now mean Quartz countertops will be more expensive due to a longer construction period, etc. ?

David Kelley said...

I would have to strongly agree with Julian's statement above when he stated that we as industry just don't seem to be that aware of the dangers of prolonged use of certain materials. I f you ask them about safety they would generally refer to tool safety or maybe fumes. There needs to be more of a push to be aware the materials that can do long term damage to our bodies. I say this knowing that before this year I never really gave much thought to the idea of routing the MDF without a dust mask beside the fact that the next time I blow my nose it would most likely be black. And while this may not be dangerous to ones health because it is not a daily occurrence for us, we should still be aware of what levels are considered harmful. These are just things we need to start thinking about more throughly as a industry.

Ali Whyte said...

I unfortunately know a lot of people whose reaction to this would be very negative. There are definitely those people out there who will wave this regulation off as corporate this or that or unnecessary or any other number of equally negative things. I think this is why organizations like OSHA exist and have all of the rules and regulations that they do. I also think it is important in the theatre industry to be aware of materials like this and the harmful short term and long term effects that they can cause. We work with so many different materials, often for less than their intended purpose, so regulations like this, in my opinion are steps towards using all of those materials safely. Even in the short term use of these materials in theatre, it is still good to be aware that they may have unintended consequences or unforeseen safety issues.