|OSHA Respirator Safety Sign|
The Respirable Crystalline Silica construction standard, 29 CFR § 1926.1153, establishes a new 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, an action level (AL) of 25 µg/m3, and a host of ancillary requirements. During the first 30 days of enforcement, OSHA will carefully evaluate good faith efforts taken by employers in their attempts to meet the new construction silica standard. OSHA will render compliance assistance and outreach to assure that covered employers are fully and properly complying with its requirements. OSHA has also published a silica compliance guide to help small businesses comply with the new rule.
About 2.3 million people in the U.S. are exposed to silica at work. Respirable crystalline silica is created when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling or crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick, block and mortar. Activities that result in worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica dust include:
- Sand blasting
- Sawing brick or concrete
- Sanding or drilling concrete
- Grinding mortar
- Manufacturing bricks, concrete blocks, stone counter tops or ceramic products
- Cutting or crushing stone
Workers who inhale these crystalline silica particles are at increased risk of developing serious silica-related diseases, including:
- Silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death
- Lung cancer
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Kidney disease
New Silica Standards for Construction and MaritimeOSHA has issued two new respirable crystalline silica standards: one for construction, and the other for general industry and maritime. OSHA began enforcing most provisions of the standard for construction on September 23, 2017, and will begin enforcing most provisions of the standard for general industry and maritime on June 23, 2018.
Update: U.S. Court of Appeals Rejects Industry Challenges to Silica RuleOn December 22, 2017, OSHA's silica rule survived a court challenge and remains in effect, with a three-judge panel rejecting all five objections raised by industry groups. The U.S. Chamber said it is reviewing the decision, adding that "we continue to believe that OSHA lacks substantial evidence to support its rule."
- Visit the OSHA Silica page.
- Browse silica FAQs.
- Review the new standard 1926.1153.
- Learn about OSHA's Small Business Guide to the new silica rules.
- Browse Respirator PPE safety signs and labels.