Respirable Crystalline Silica

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Controlling silica exposure


In many industries, it is now common to find high-energy operations that can generate respirable crystalline silica. Base materials such as sand, concrete, brick, block, stone, and mortar combined with cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, or crushing creates a risk for exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Crystalline silica is also a component used to make certain products: glass, pottery, ceramics, bricks, concrete and artificial stone. Adding to the challenge of controlling exposure, respirable crystalline silica is generally at least 100 times smaller than ordinary sand.

To protect employees from inhaling silica dust, OSHA has developed respirable silica standards to minimize serious health effects of exposure. Our consultants help employers understand OSHA silica standards and how their organization can comply with the regulations, both for construction and other general industries and maritime.

Protect against silica dust exposure in your industry


Our health and safety specialists provide consulting for organizations that use material or processes that release respirable crystalline silica.

  • Evaluate employee exposures to crystalline silica through assessment and personal sampling
  • Compare exposure monitoring results to the current OSHA Action Level and PEL
  • Assist with silica and OSHA training and documentation
  • Provide guidance to reduce employee exposure

As stated, our services include monitoring the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica. OSHA limits exposure to respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3) over an eight-hour day with an action level of 25 µg/m3 over an eight-hour day.

Industries Affected by OSHA Silica Standards

  • Construction
  • Glass manufacturing
  • Pottery and ceramics products
  • Structural clay products
  • Concrete and ready-mix products
  • Foundries
  • Dental laboratories
  • Paintings and coatings
  • Jewelry production
  • Refractory and furnace operations
  • Landscaping
  • Stone products
  • Abrasive blasting operations
  • Railroads
  • Hydraulic fracturing – gas and oil
  • Asphalt products

Different respirable silica standards by industry


Construction Industry

  • June 23, 2017 – Employers are required to comply with all obligations of the standard, except methods of sample analysis.
  • June 23, 2018 – Employers are required to comply with all obligations of the standard, including methods of sample analysis.

All Operations in General Industry and Maritime

  • June 23, 2018 – Employers are required to comply with all obligations of the standard including offering medical surveillance to employees exposed above the PEL for 30+ days a year.
  • June 23, 2020 – Employers are required to also offer medical surveillance to employees who will be exposed at or above the action level for 30+ days a year.

Hydraulic Fracturing for the Oil & Gas Industry

  • June 23, 2018 – Requirements are the same as “All operations in general industry and maritime.”
  • June 23, 2018 – For this three-year period, employers can continue to have employees wear respirators to comply with the PEL.
  • June 23, 2021 – Engineering controls must be implemented to limit exposures to the new PEL.

Be aware and comply with OSHA’s most recent silica standards

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The Institute for Environmental Assessment, Inc. (IEA) is an environmental, health and safety consulting firm based in Minnesota serving the public and private sectors of education, healthcare, government, industrial, manufacturing, and corporate spaces nationwide.