OSHA’s New Silica Guidelines

This summer OSHA published a guide to help small businesses comply with agency standards for worker exposure to silica.   The new exposure rules went into effect in June and companies have until 2018 to comply.

What is Silica?

Crystalline Silica is a known carcinogen, and exposure can trigger a chronic disease called Silicosis. Silicosis is a deadly disease that scars the lungs and leads to lung cancer. The proposed rule looks to save 700 lives, and prevent 1,600 cases of Silicosis every year. OSHA estimates that 2.3 million workers are exposed to the silica dust, along with an additional 2 million workers in the construction industry.Workers in high energy operations like cutting, drilling or crushing rock may create small particles of respirable silica. These particles are 100 times smaller than sand. The new OSHA guidelines lower the permissible exposure limit to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air during an 8-hour shift. Where can I find information to comply? While OSHA has previously written compliance guides for silica and construction, the new guide focuses on small businesses. There is also an OSHA fact sheet available here.

For an ‘At a Glance’ approach to Silica, ETC has created this handy InfoGraphic for ease of use: