The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published two new lists of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on controlling respirable crystalline silica: one for the construction industry and another for general industries.
The new FAQs were developed through a concerted effort between OSHA, industry stakeholders and unions, and they are meant to provide guidance to both employers and employees. The FAQs offer concise information on the new silica standard and required controls, including the following:
- Exposure assessments
- Regulated areas
- Methods of compliance
- Communicating silica hazards
The questions and answers are organized by topic and include an introduction to provide background information on subject.
The FAQs can be read online through these links, and downloadable PDF versions are available on each page.
Crystalline silica is a common mineral found in the earth’s crust. Materials like sand, stone, concrete, and mortar contain crystalline silica, and it is also used to make a variety of products, including glass, pottery, ceramic, brick and engineered stone.
Respirable crystalline silica consists of very small particles more than 100 times smaller than ordinary sand. It is created when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling and crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick and mortar. Activities such as abrasive sandblasting, sawing, sanding, drilling, grinding mortar and manufacturing bricks, concrete blocks or stone countertops may expose workers to silica.
People who regularly inhale these very small crystalline silica particles are at increased risk of developing serious silica-related diseases, including the following:
- Lung cancer
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Kidney disease.
To protect against exposure to respirable crystalline silica, OSHA has issued two respirable crystalline silica standards: one for construction and the other for general industry and maritime.
For further assistance with the control of respirable crystalline silica, please contact your state OSHA office.