Emily Brown

Project title: Challenges for the City of Seattle and the New Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard

Degree: MS | Program: Applied Occupational Hygiene (App OH) | Project type: Project
Completed in: 2018 | Faculty advisor: Martin A. Cohen


Due to the recent change in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard, the City of Seattle took actions to prepare for and adjust processes to fulfill the requirements of the new standard. Exposure assessments were completed, results were communicated to employees, forms were updated to include requirements for silica medical surveillance exams and silica exposures, and a Citywide silica guideline was created. All of the processes sampled for this summer were under the action level of 25 μg/m3 and exposures could be controlled to that level to ensure the most health protective exposure restrictions. However, engineering controls had not been bought, exposure assessments were difficult to schedule, and all needed sampling had not been completed. Additional changes to city processes could improve compliance with the standard and improve employee health outcomes including educating management regarding silica standard, buying needed engineering controls, completing additional exposure assessment, and closing loop holes in the standard that could lead to adverse health outcomes for employees.