The U.S. Department of Labor issued a ruling on March 24, 2016, aimed at better protecting workers from respirable silica dust. The new rule substantially reduces the allowed exposure limits for workers in industries that range from construction to manufacturing to fracking. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will enforce a reduction in the amount of silica that workers can be exposed to over an eight-hour day from 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 50 micrograms.
Bosch offers a variety of technologies to help meet these requirements, including hammers, vacuums, dust-collection accessories and Speed Clean bits. The hollow-core Speed Clean bits, which are widely available, represent a key part of a comprehensive system that minimizes airborne dust while producing precise, clean holes in concrete. Because Speed Clean bits virtually eliminate airborne silica dust in the environment, there are benefits to both workers and people located in the immediate area around the construction site.
According to OSHA, more than 2.3 million people in the U. S. are exposed to fine grains of silica (OSHA.gov) on the job; inhaling this dust has been suspected as a workplace hazard for decades. Quartz, the most common form of silica, is a component of sand, stone, rock, concrete, brick, block and mortar. Airborne silica dust may penetrate deep into the lungs, causing diseases like silicosis (Centers for Disease Control), lung cancer and kidney cancer.
Bosch initiated testing performed by a certified industrial hygienist. Four tests were conducted using each type of concrete drill bit. In all four tests Speed Clean rendered undetectable amounts of silica dust in the worker’s breathing zone; for conventional concrete drill bits just the opposite was true – silica dust was detected in all four tests in the worker’s breathing zone.
Bosch Speed Clean bits are a key component of a comprehensive program to reduce potentially harmful silica dust on any jobsite where concrete is drilled.
Ed. Note: This article was contributed by Robert Bosch Tool Corporation.