Researchers seek contractors to test low-cost solutions for silica exposure
Fiber cement siding is popular in home construction because it is weather resilient and does not attract insects or need to be painted as frequently as other siding materials. However, workers cutting the siding may be exposed to fine dust particles containing silica, which can lead to lung diseases, including silicosis.
Scientists with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health believe there may be a simple, inexpensive solution. They are seeking contractors willing to be tested while doing their normal jobs.
In lab tests, the scientists have found that connecting a regular shop vacuum to a circular saw may provide a solution to silica exposure from cutting fiber cement. They are seeking to test the solution at work sites.
"As workers cut fiber cement siding, NIOSH researchers would like to test the air in the workers' personal breathing zone during a work shift," the scientists said in a recent blog post. "During the test days, NIOSH researchers will ask some workers to wear a small device (sampler and pump) on their belt or vest with a filter clipped to their collar. The samples would be changed at mid-shift or lunch time. At the end of the shift, the samples will be collected and sent to a lab for analysis."
NIOSH will provide the saws, blades, shop vacuums, and sampling devices and materials. The circular saws will be connected to shop vacuums via a vacuum hose.
"We will record the flow rate going through the vacuum," the researchers explained. "The vacuum will be set up to automatically turn on when the circular saw is started. Workers can do their jobs as they normally would."
NIOSH will develop a technical report on the findings. While the researchers are based in Cincinnati and are looking for workers especially in that area, they will consider all sites throughout the nation.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
April 29, 2013
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