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With its increasing emphasis on safety in the field, Durable Restoration recently implemented guidelines to ensure protection against the inhalation of silica, small dust particles that can damage internal organs.
Grinding out mortar joints and cutting stone blocks creates this silica dust, which is common among the majority of Durable’s historic masonry projects. In September, OSHA began enforcing a more rigorous standard when it comes to employees exposed to silica dust.
“Based on OSHA regulations, we’re taking extra precautions to ensure our employees’ safety,” said Joe Redd, safety director for The Durable Group, which encompasses Durable Restoration.
Since the updated regulations came out four months ago, employees have used the Versaflo respirator to protect their lungs from any situation where a significant amount of silica dust is created, Redd said.
Because of a pre-filter, filter, heavy duty breathing tube and battery charger, the Versaflo respirator ensures an effective seal from silica dust and filtered, clean air to breathe. The respirator also has a built in face shield and hard hat.
“As long as the motor is running, it does all the work,” Redd said. “Plus, it provides greater flexibility to move around and still get the job done.”
Recently, Durable trained new employees on the use of the respirator while working on a mock masonry wall. Some employees have noted that it provides a fresh air flow, making them cool and comfortable, regardless of the outside environment.
“Our employees prefer to wear this respirator because of its comfort and effectiveness,” Redd said.
Prolonged silica dust exposure can lead to lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and kidney disease among other issues, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Silica dust exposure is especially dangerous due to its subtle effect on the body over the course of many years. Even after exposure has ceased, the scar tissue on the lungs can continue to grow, Redd said.
“Our goal is for our employees to be here for the long-term,” Redd said. “We want them to live a healthy life until retirement age and beyond.”
Joe Redd serves as the safety director for The Durable Group, which includes Durable Restoration. He has been with the company for 13 years and spent the last three years improving safety.