The BCCSA Silica Control Tool
The BCCSA has developed the Silica Control Tool as a resource for the construction industry in BC. The Tool assists employers in conducting appropriate risk assessments and implementing effective controls and safe work practices where RCS dust may be an occupational hazard. Through the compilation of data relating to RCS dust exposures pertaining to various materials, tools and tasks in construction, the Tool can predict the expected exposures to workers under similar conditions.
New provisions under the OHSR permit employers to use existing monitoring data from equivalent work operations as an alternative to air monitor testing, in appropriate cases (source). This means that employers can look to the Tool as a means of using "...objective exposure monitoring data that was collected during equivalent work operations through industry surveys or peer reviewed or scientific studies". The Tool relies on scientific studies and data collected through research of a team from the UBC School of Population and Public Health at the Faculty of Medicine.
Based on the information the user inputs, the Tool identifies processes that may lead to exposures over the allowable exposure control limit, provides information about how to bring the exposure within the allowable limit, and produces a corresponding Exposure Control Plan (ECP) for the user.
The Tool guides the user step-by-step for each of their identified RCS dust producing processes through:
- assessment of the risk from exposure
- identification of the expected exposure
- suggestions for appropriate controls
- identification of expected exposure with the controls
- any PPE that may be required, and
- production of components of a related Exposure Control Plan.
The key benefits of the tool to employers are:
- Help to ensure the health and safety of workers engaged in RCS dust producing processes.
- Assist in complying with the requirements of the OHS Regulation relating to assessing and controlling RCS dust exposures to below the allowable exposure limit.
- In some situations, eliminate the need for air monitoring tests for planned work processes, which is particularly helpful given that testing can often be challenging on construction sites because of short duration of work, and changing nature of activities.
- Preparation of specific process-based ECPs templates that can be tailored for each jobsite.
The BCCSA Silica Control Tool can be a valuable aid to qualified persons in conducting RCS dust risk assessments, selecting and implementing controls and developing ECPs. However, the Tool is NOT a replacement for professional advice or jobsite air monitoring tests as may be needed. Jobsites and construction projects can be highly complex with unique variables and ever changing nature of work. The Tool does not purport to provide a conclusive output for every possible RCS dust producing process. Employers are ultimately responsible for taking whatever steps are needed to ensure that the requirements of the OHS Regulation are met.
As a BCCSA Silica Control Tool user, you may contact the BCCSA with any RCS dust control questions, or consult with other qualified people of your choosing.