Silica Resources

Silica Education

Crystalline silica is a common mineral found in many naturally occurring materials and industrial products. RCS consists of very small silica particles, 100 times smaller than ordinary beach sand, and can be generated by operations like cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling and crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar and when abrasive blasting with sand. Exposure to RCS can also occur during manufacture of products such as glass, pottery, ceramics, bricks, concrete, countertops and artificial stone and as a result of foundry and hydraulic fracking operations. Inhalation of elevated levels of RCS is a health hazard that can cause diseases including silicosis, an incurable lung disease, and lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease.

OSHA's Silica Rule
Resource credit: Natural Stone Institute

OSHA released its long-anticipated rule reducing the permissible exposure level (PEL) for crystalline silica for general industry and construction.  The rule cuts the respirable silica PEL from 100 µg/m3for an 8-hour time weighted average to 50 µg/m3. The rule was broken into two separate standards—one for the General Industry & Maritime (affecting employees in stone fabrication shops), and one for Construction (affecting employees working at jobsites in the field). OSHA’s Silica Rule went into effect on June 23, 2016. 

Since a portion of the stone industry will be covered under the “construction” standard and others under the “general industry” standard, the following documents and links are provided for quick reference:

Employers covered by the Construction Standard had until September 23, 2017 to comply with most requirements outlined in the standard. Employers covered by the maritime and General Industry Standard will have until June 23, 2018 (two years from the effective date) to comply. 

Companies are encouraged to assess their current silica exposure risks and safety efforts to ensure they are compliant with the new OSHA ruling.  In fabrication shops where no monitoring has occurred, it is recommended to conduct breathing zone sampling. Continue to utilize wet cutting and other 'best practices' that limit silica exposure whenever possible.

Read more about ISFA and NSI partnering to bring Silica Training to Fabricators

Thank you to our Partner
Natural Stone Institute