Axiom Medical oﬀers comprehensive employee testing and medical exams to help employers stay compliant with the newest OSHA standards. With over 20 years of experience in occupational health and employee healthcare management, Axiom Medical is an industry leader for state and OSHA-mandated employee testing. Our experienced team comprising OSHA-trained nurses and medical professionals will provide you with the best insight into the OSHA silica standard and mandated Silica Exam.
What Is Silica Exposure?
Crystalline silica is a commonly found material in untreated soil, sand, stone, mortar, and concrete. The compound is also useful in brick and glass-making, ceramics, pottery, and other similar product manufacturing. Although crystalline silica dust may seem harmless, these microscopic particles are very harmful to your health. The respirable, crystalline silica can quickly enter our body by inhaling and penetrating the human lung’s deepest part when inhaled.
Chronic exposure and inhalation of such respirable crystalline silica (RCS) dust can lead to severe lung disease, such as silicosis, and puts the person at an increased risk of developing tuberculosis. Workers exposed to silica may not experience symptoms until 15-20 years later – but a chest x-ray can determine if there is lung damage.
Over 2.3 million U.S. workers working in high-risk industries are exposed to crystalline silica each year. Employees doing the following jobs are always at a risk of high levels of exposure:
- Removing paint
- Abrasive blasting
- Cement/brick manufacturing
- Repair/replacement brick furnace lining
- Drilling, molding, sawing
- Jack hammering
- Pottery production
Why Should You Consider Employee Silica Exam?
If your workforces are in construction work, which involves cutting, sawing, drilling, and crushing, they may get exposed to fine silica. Since silica can impair workers’ health and safety, OSHA mandates silica exams to protect workers from occupational health hazards due to crystalline silica. OSHA recently introduced two Respirable Crystalline Silica Standards for workers in construction and general maritime industries. These standards will help protect workers at risk of silica dust exposure.
If your employees are not tested regularly for silica exposure, they may develop irreversible chronic lung disease. Without assessing the severity of the damage, the condition will progress to severe illnesses, causing extreme shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, chest pain, or respiratory failure.
Axiom Medical’s Employee Silica Exams & Physical:
To ensure employers stay compliant and employees stay healthy, Axiom provides a comprehensive silica testing program that includes: OSHA mandated 7-part testing for employees every three years, 4-part testing every year, notification of re-testing, and management of all medical records, in addition to:
- Silica questionnaire
- Physical exam
- Chest x-ray, with “B” reader TB skin test
- Respirator questionnaire
- Respiratory fit test
- Pulmonary function test
What is Included in Our Silica Medical Exam?
Axiom Medical’s comprehensive silica exams include physical and other tests to confirm the level of exposure. Our multi-step approach helps employers detect and protect those at risk. Stepwise overview would include:
Reviewing Medical History and Occupational Health:
The OSHA-mandated silica physical exam requires a complete, initial review of each worker’s medical and occupational history to learn more about any health issues and potential exposure at work. During this process, employees will complete a questionnaire or will be asked about chemical and airborne particle exposure, symptoms such as breathing problems, and underlying health conditions. Employers must ensure the employee status is updated every three years if working conditions remain unchanged.
The initial review is followed by a physical exam, with emphasis on the respiratory system. The baseline silica exam physical also examines the cardiac system, other pertinent organ systems, and basic metabolic panel.
As a part of the Silica Exam , the TB test must be completed. This test includes both skin and blood tests to confirm if the employee is at higher risk for TB. If the employee is diagnosed with TB, he or she will be referred to a specialist.
The Silica Exam also requires an initial chest X-ray to properly diagnose chest abnormalities and/or silicosis and monitor progression.
Pulmonary Function & Spirometry Test
Your workers will also have to undergo a PFT & spirometry test every three years, following the first test. A PFT & spirometry test evaluates and measures lung capacity. A certified spirometry technician must conduct testing.
Written Medical Opinion for the Silica Physical
Based on the test results, the employer and employee will receive a physician’s written medical opinion. The documents may include recommended limitations on future workplace exposures and additional private medical information.
For medical clearances, your employers may need respirator fit testing as a part of their Silica Physicals. The test requires the participant to take both the Qualitative and/or Quantitative fit test as recommended by the physician.
When is a Silica Physical Required?
A Silica Physical is an OSHA-mandated exam for those employees required to wear respirators for 30 days or more in a work year. If respirators’ usage is meant to protect the workers from silica dust exposure, employers should conduct a complete silica physical exam. Such physicals will help employers determine whether silica exposure meets or exceed the action level.
How Can Axiom Medical Help?
Axiom Medical delivers services to keep your worksite safe while protecting your workforce from possible work injuries and harmful silica exposure. Our offsite testing and onsite mobile clinics offer various types of tests, including silica physical exams across the nation.
Axiom Medical mobile lab units are equipped with advanced testing kits and tools to perform various medical screenings, including silica exams.
Our employee testing services also include year-round medical surveillance and all types of respiratory exams, including respirator fit, asbestos, and silica physicals.
Are you looking for something specific for your employees? Let us help you achieve your employee healthcare goals.
They Said It!
I believe with confidence that we are reaching all of our expected goals by bringing Axiom on as an outsourced case management solution.
Axiom has helped us closely monitor the injured employee’s progress through the medical treatment process. Early treatment has kept our employees at work when in the past they would have likely taken time off or been placed off by a physician.
I recommend Axiom because their Nurse Case Management Team is their biggest asset. They are accessible, give great reports and are responsive to our needs.