Crystalline silica is a common mineral that is found in construction materials such as sand, stone, concrete, brick, and mortar. When workers cut, grind, drill, or crush materials that contain crystalline silica, very small dust particles are created. These tiny "respirable" particles can travel deep into workers' lungs and cause silicosis, an incurable and sometimes deadly lung disease.
Respirable crystalline silica also causes lung cancer, other potentially debilitating respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease. In most cases, these diseases occur after years of exposure to respirable crystalline silica.
OSHA's 29 CFR 1926.1153, Respirable crystalline silica for construction requires employers to limit worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica and to take other steps to protect workers. Employers can either use a control method laid out in Table 1 of the construction standard, or they can measure workers' exposure to silica and independently decide which dust controls work best to limit exposures in their workplaces to the permissible exposure limit (PEL).
Among other things, the standard requires employers to:
In this course, we’ll discuss these new provisions with special emphasis on effective control measures eliminate or reduce exposure to safe levels.
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1. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. (2016). NIOSH Silica Controls for Construction. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/silica/constructioncontrolmain.html
2. CPWR/NIOSH. (2016). Model Silica Specifications Retrieved from: http://www.cpwr.com/sites/default/files/publications/CPWR%20Model%20Silica%20Specifications-2014.pdf
3. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2016a). Safety and Health Topics, Silica, Crystalline. Retrieved from: https://www.osha.gov/dsg/topics/silicacrystalline/index.html
4. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2016b). Operating Handheld Masonry Saws. Retrieved from: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/silica/OSHA_FS-3627.pdf
5. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2016c). Operating Handheld Masonry Saws. Retrieved from: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/silica/OSHA_FS-3631.pdf
6. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2016d). Operating Handheld Grinders. Retrieved from: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/silica/OSHA_FS-3628.pdf
7. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2016e). Operating Rotary Hammers. Retrieved from: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/silica/OSHA_FS-3630.pdf
8. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2016f). Operating Vehicle Mounted Rock Drills. Retrieved from: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/silica/OSHA_FS-3633.pdf
9. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2016g). Jackhammering. Retrieved from: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/silica/OSHA_FS-3629.pdf
10. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2016h). Tuckpointing/Motar Removal. Retrieved from: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/silica/OSHA_FS-3632.pdf