OSHA And NIOSH Issue Hazard Alert On Hydraulic Fracturing Operations
Washington, DC (WorkersCompensation.com) - OSHA and NIOSH, in consultation with stakeholders including industry and labor, have issued a hazard alert to ensure employers in hydraulic fracturing operations take appropriate steps to protect workers from silica exposure. The hazard alert follows a cooperative study by NIOSH and industry partners that identified overexposure to silica as a health hazard to workers conducting hydraulic fracturing operations.
Respirable silica is a hazard common to many industries and industrial processes, and large quantities of silica sand are used during hydraulic fracturing. Workers who breathe silica day after day are at greater risk of developing silicosis, a disease in which lung tissue reacts to trapped silica particles, causing inflammation and scarring, and reducing the lungs' ability to take in oxygen. Silica also can cause lung cancer and has been linked to other diseases, such as tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney and autoimmune disease.
"Hazardous exposures to silica can and must be prevented. It is important for employers and workers to understand the hazards associated with silica exposure in hydraulic fracturing operations and how to protect workers," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "OSHA and NIOSH are committed to continuing to work with the industry and workers to find effective solutions to address these hazards."