Silica Dust in General Industry: Preventing Exposure

Course Description:

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), exposure to respirable crystalline silica remains a serious threat to approximately 300,000 workers in over 75,000 U.S. general industry and maritime workplaces. OSHA estimates that over 100,000 of these workers are in high-exposure-risk jobs, such as operations using sand products, including glass manufacturing and sandblasting. Respirable crystalline silica, or silica, is a common mineral found in materials such as stone, artificial stone, and sand, and it has been classified as a human lung carcinogen. Additionally, breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, which in severe cases can be disabling, or even fatal. The respirable silica dust enters the lungs and causes the formation of scar tissue, thus reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. There is no cure for silicosis. The OSHA respirable crystalline silica rule for general industry found at 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.1053 sets forth requirements to significantly reduce the amount of silica dust that workers can be exposed to in the workplace, including employee training. This training session will cover the hazards of respirable crystalline silica and how to protect yourself and others each day on the job.

Course Duration: 21 minutes

Why “Silica Dust in General Industry: Preventing Exposure” Matters:

  • Silica dust in general industry workplaces is a serious hazard to over 300,000 U.S. workers, including high-exposure risk jobs such as oil and gas fracking, stone cutting, glass manufacturing, foundries, and sandblasting. Airborne silica is the cause of silicosis and can lead to other serious disorders, including tuberculosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—or COPD, kidney disease, and immunological disorders like systemic lupus and scleroderma. The dust particles are typically 100 times smaller than ordinary sand and not visible to the naked eye that can get in the lungs—meaning workers may be exposed and not know it unless the air is monitored, and they are informed about exposure. There are well-known and effective exposure control measures, including engineering and work practice controls and respiratory protection.

Key Points:

The health hazards of exposure to silica dust can be crippling and deadly, like silicosis, lung cancer, and COPD.
Many common activities such as surface cleaning and preparation techniques, milling, polishing, grinding, or other activities that disturb a silica-containing product can expose you to silica dust hazards.
The crystalline silica rule requires that your employer protect you from exposure to silica dust with control measures.
Labels and SDSs provide valuable information on the potential hazards of silica exposure to a material, and signs at entrances to regulated areas reduce your chances of exposure.
Exposures can be controlled by using water, or a dust collection system, and by enclosing the area of the job task to keep other workers away.
Your employer is required to make medical surveillance screenings available to you to identify any silica exposure-related health effects.