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OSHA Issues Guidance on Abrasive Blasting in Shipyards

New OSHA guidance alerts shipyard employers and their employees about abrasive blasting hazards and the controls that can be implemented to protect employees.

"This new guidance focuses on silica alternatives, since most shipyards have moved away from using silica as a blasting agent," OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke Jr. said. "However, alternative blasting materials may bring a different set of hazards, so we want shipyard employees and their employers to have the most up-to-date safety and health information possible."

The new guidance also addresses the specific air contaminants that employees could be exposed to during abrasive blasting.

The guidance discusses other abrasive blasting safety and health hazards and offers recommendations on ways to avoid those occupational hazards. Recommendations include the use of personal protective equipment, exposure monitoring, medical surveillance and training on the OSHA hazard communication and PPE standards.

OSHA recommends that employers perform an inspection of the worksite to identify additional hazards such as excessive noise, static electricity, confined spaces, heat exposure and fall hazards. The guidance encourages employers to research each of the discussed hazards, as well as understand the suggested preventative measures and the abatement that has been detailed in the guidance.

Although these guidelines are designed specifically for shipyard employment, OSHA in a news release said it hopes that employers with similar work environments also will find this information useful.

To view the new guidance, click here.

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