Airborne Dust Limits Finalized for Sand Use in Hydraulic Fracturing

Topics: Hydraulic fracturing Sand management/control
Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
NIOSH identified dust ejected from thief hatches as a primary source of silica dust exposure.

The long-term effects of respirable silica dust have been long known to various industrial sectors, from concrete construction and road building to the manufacture of glass and ceramics. As hydraulic fracturing operations have become a significant part of oil and gas portfolios, companies have begun paying additional attention to the safety of workers exposed to the dust that emanates from large volumes of the sand used.

In March 2016, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a revised standard that cuts in half the permissible exposure limit (PEL) per cubic meter of air, making employers implement controls that limit worker exposure and access in high-silica areas. 

The regulations provide some challenges, but a closer look shows that the oil and gas industry anticipated the effects of crystalline silica as well as the effects of the new regulations. Operators and sand companies have a host of technological approaches to deal with the realities of this harmful dust.

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Airborne Dust Limits Finalized for Sand Use in Hydraulic Fracturing

Stephen Whitfield, Senior Staff Writer

01 April 2017

Volume: 69 | Issue: 4