After a study by NIOSH and oil and gas industry partners found silica a health hazard to workers during hydraulic fracturing operations, they –along with OSHA—took the appropriate steps to ensure their safety and brought it to focus with a hazard alert.
Following consultations with stakeholders and industry, the alert announced now meets the Obama administration’s focus on the importance of this specific issue.
Examples of exposure include transporting, moving, and refilling silica sand into and through sand movers, and along transfer belts and into blender hoppers, which counts for up to 99 percent of the silica in the air that workers breathe. The alert explains how a combination of engineering control, work practices, protective equipment, product substitution, and proper worker safety training can reduce health hazard exposure. Common health illnesses caused from silica exposure are silicosis and sometimes even lung cancer. Other linked diseases found are tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney and autoimmune disease.
“Hazardous exposures to silica can and must be prevented. It is important for employers and workers to understand the hazards associated with silica exposure in hydraulic fracturing operations and how to protect workers,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “OSHA and NIOSH are committed to continuing to work with the industry and workers to find effective solutions to address these hazards.”
To learn more on this hazard alert, visit http://www.osha.gov/dts/hazardalerts/hydraulic_frac_hazard_alert.html.