New California Worker Safety Standard for Silica Exposure: Is Your Business Affected?

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CalOSHA) Standards Board recently adopted an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for workplace exposure to silica.  Airborne silica can be a serious health threat and can cause permanent disability or even death.  Proper protective equipment, along with professionally managed occupational healthcare services such as respirator fit testing and silica exposure-related health screenings, are the tools for keeping workplaces safe and in compliance with regulatory requirements.

Noting nearly 100 deaths that are attributed to workplace silica exposures, the ETS applies to workers who are engaged in high-exposure tasks such as cutting, grinding, or polishing artificial or natural stone containing more than 10% crystalline silica.  Artificial stone includes a variety of materials, including reconstituted, artificial, synthetic, and engineered stone, and includes products such as porcelain, manufactured stone, quartz, and similar items containing 93% or greater crystalline silica.  For workplaces that engage in high-exposure tasks, a variety of environmental controls are required, such as constant dust suppression, posting of warning signs, and use of a powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) or a respirator providing equal or greater protection may be required; the ETS contemplates consultation with a health care professional to assess the appropriate respirator protection level.  The ETS also mandates airborne exposure testing in the work environment, along with a respirator fit testing program conducted under the supervision of a qualified professional.  In addition, all affected workplaces must adopt a written exposure control plan and training standards to ensure compliance with the ETS requirements and best practices.

ETS are customarily adopted when CalOSHA identifies a new or emerging threat to worker safety that it believes requires an urgent response in lieu of using the normal process for proposing and establishing permanent regulations.  The ETS took effect on December 29, 2023 and will remain in place for one year unless earlier repealed or modified.  An employer fact sheet is available here.

Work Health Solutions offers a full host of services for all workplaces.  With our innovative Fractional Medical Director program, we can provide the professional consultation required by the ETS in order to assess appropriate respiratory protection levels, implement and monitor respirator fitness testing programs, and assist in the development and monitoring of the legally required written exposure control plan.  We also offer a complete range of occupational healthcare services, including respirator fit testing, silica exposure-related medical surveillance, and more.  To find out more about the silica exposure ETS or to learn how you can leverage occupational healthcare best practices to enhance employee health and wellness while reducing occupational injury and disease-related costs, contact us today.

 

Work Health Solutions

Work Health Solutions

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Work Health Solutions is dedicated to preserving a safe work environment and improving existing programs and care for local, regional and national organizations.

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Dr. Michael Tenison

A series of notable accomplishments distinguish Dr. Michael Tenison’s career in medical operations and healthcare management:

  • Successfully led medical operations at a national healthcare provider, focusing on optimizing healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.
  • Oversaw the regional medical practices in key markets like Oregon and Northern California, ensuring consistent, quality medical care and service delivery.
  • Demonstrated exceptional leadership in building and mentoring a large medical provider team, enhancing team performance and patient care standards.
  • Implemented strategic company policies and protocols, significantly improving center efficiency, clinical quality, and patient experiences.
  • Played a pivotal role in financial planning and identifying growth opportunities for healthcare services, contributing to the organization’s overall success.
  • Served as a primary point of contact for regional employer clients and insurance companies, fostering strong relationships and effective communication.
  • Maintained high medical care and case management standards through diligent supervision, chart audits, and performance metric analysis.

Dr. Matt Feeley

Dr. Matt Feeley is a renowned figure in military aviation medicine, with a robust background in occupational and environmental medicine from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

  • Former Naval Flight Surgeon, exemplifying his expertise in aerospace medicine and commitment to military health.
  • Served with distinction at NSA Bahrain and HSM-37, earning the COMPACFLT Flight Surgeon of the Year award for exceptional medical service.
  • Supported U.S. Marines VMFA-323 aboard the USS Nimitz, MACG-38, and VMU-3, demonstrating versatility and leadership in diverse medical environments.
  • Broad interests and significant contributions in global health, corporate medicine, and aerospace medicine, highlighting his multidisciplinary approach.
  • Proven track record as a dynamic leader, well-equipped to face the challenges in a fractional medical directorship role with innovative solutions.

Dr. Glen Cheng

A physician-attorney with a dedication to healthcare innovation, informatics, and digital health.

  • Currently spearheads employee health protection and promotion within the VA Pittsburgh Health Care System.
  • Trained in residency at Harvard, achieving board certification as a physician; also a licensed patent attorney with experience as FDA regulatory counsel.
  • Co-founded Acceleromics, a consulting firm providing clinical and regulatory guidance to digital health startups.

Erin Davis

 Chief Clinical Officer at Work Health Solutions, certified in Adult-Gerontology (AGNP-C) and Athletic Training (ATC).

  • Oversees clinical operations and ensures high clinical standards across the company’s national field staff.
  • Former Manager of Clinic Operations and Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner at Stanford University Occupational Health Center (SUOHC).
  • Specialized in treating occupational injuries and illnesses, and provided medical surveillance and travel medicine consults at Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Lab.
  • Dedicated to sports and occupational injury treatment and prevention.
  • Assistant Clinical Faculty at UCSF, mentoring students in clinical rotations within the Adult Gerontology and Occupational and Environmental Health Program.
  • Holds leadership roles as Treasurer and President Elect of the California El Camino Real Association of Occupational Health Nurses (CECRAOHN), affiliated with the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN).

Dr. Robert Goldsmith

Expert in benefits design and onsite innovation with specialization in the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Previous role as Executive Director for Employee Health at Novartis Services, Inc., leading health services and clinical support.
  • Instrumental in creating an integrated healthcare system at Novartis.
  • Former private practice in internal medicine in Stamford, Connecticut, and Medical Director consultant for GTE Corporation.
  • Transitioned to GE as a Global Medical Director in 2000.
  • Holds a medical degree from Albert Einstein College, an MPH from the University of Connecticut, and completed training at Greenwich Hospital and Yale-New Haven Medical Center.
  • Assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the Vagelos School of Medicine, Columbia University.
  • Serves as a team physician for high school athletes in Stamford.
  • Published works on occupational health risks, primary prevention, and exercise-induced asthma.