Thursday, March 19, 2015

NIOSH & Partners Recommend Controls for Silica Exposure During Asphalt Pavement Milling

Nearly 367,000 U.S. highway, street and bridge construction workers are at risk of exposure to respirable crystalline silica. According to research, workers currently use a variety of machinery when removing and recycling asphalt pavement, some of which generate airborne crystalline silica dust, putting road crews at risk of respiratory illness. In an ongoing effort to help mitigate these types of exposures, NIOSH has developed a new document that provides recommendations for controlling worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

Best Practice Engineering Control Guidelines to Control Worker Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica during Asphalt Pavement Milling, developed through the Silica/Asphalt Milling Machine Partnership, represents more than 10 years of collaborative research. According to the agency, a number of companies use cold-milling machines with toothed, rotating cutters that grind and remove pavement. Dust generated from these machines often contains respirable crystalline silica which can be mixed into the air workers breathe.

This document aims to provide best practices and recommendations to reduce the risk of exposure including ventilation controls, machine design alterations and water sprays used to cool the cutting teeth of milling machines to lessen silica dust exposure.

In addition to this document, the Center for Construction Research and Training has developed a shorter field guide that provides a quick reference to best practices and control recommendations.

Click here to learn more about engineering controls for silica in construction.