By Brad Sant, senior vice president of safety and education, ARTBA

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is seeking information on methods to protect miners from the negative effects of over-exposure to silica (quartz). This rule would affect ARTBA members who operate quarries to extract gravel, dirt, sand and other elements that might contain quartz (also referred to as crystalline silica).

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final standard on silica for the construction industry that became effective Sept. 23, 2017.

The MSHA request seeks information on economically and technologically feasible methods to protect miners, including a reduced permissible exposure limit, potential new or developing protective technologies, and technical and educational assistance. Read the Aug. 29 Request for Information published in the Federal Register. Comments are due by Oct. 28.

Quartz makes up the majority of naturally occurring crystalline silica and is present in almost every type of mineral. Since mechanized mining and milling operations generate large amounts of dust, MSHA is concerned that miners may become exposed to elevated levels of respirable quartz resulting in chronic lung diseases.

ARTBA continues its longstanding advocacy on behalf of its members and others in the transportation construction industry to ensure silica and other regulations are fair and appropriate for impacted employers.