Worried About Dust from Remodeling?

Learn whether your contractor needs to follow a new OSHA rule for silica hazards. If they create dust, they probably do.

What remodeling jobs require silica protection?

Jobs where silica dust is airborne only briefly do not fall under the rule. Workers generate airborne silica for hours to reach the OSHA regulations’ limit. The most likely residential jobs to fall under the rule include concrete cutting, drywall cutting and countertop installation.

Soon, contractors working with concrete, drywall, masonry and certain types of countertops in your home will be required by new OSHA regulations to take more elaborate protective measures when creating dust in their workplace and in your homes — if they aren’t already.

Silica dust, according to OSHA, can cause lung disease and other long-term health problems for workers who inhale it on a regular basis. To protect workers from silica dangers, including in residential settings, the more stringent OSHA rule requiring more elaborate protective measures went into effect in June. However, OSHA says it won’t begin enforcement for one year to give industries time to comply.

Is my contractor following the OSHA silica rule?

When hiring a company to do work that involves creating dust in your home, ask your contractor whether they’re familiar with OSHA regulations and what steps they take to comply with them.

The OSHA silica rule gives contractors several options when completing indoor residential work. Contractors can minimize concrete dust hazards, silica sand hazards and other issues in the home by doing as much work as possible under controlled shop conditions and bringing completed pieces to the site.

When that’s not possible, using hand tools such as saws, grinders and high-speed polishers present the most frequent indoor silica dust issues. Remedies include isolating the work area with tarps or plastic walls, equipping workers with respirators or masks, and using tools equipped with local ventilation measures, such as dust shrouds, HEPA filters and vacuums.

Wetting down surfaces can help minimize the spread of dust, but this can become unwieldy in an indoor residential scenario. Enclosures combined with ventilation measures tend to offer the best results.

This article was originally published at Angie’s List.