OSHA helps small businesses comply with respirable crystalline silica standard

New guidance provides an in-depth overview for general industry, maritime employers

Posted July 17, 2017

OSHA recently released a new guidance document to provide an in-depth overview of the Agency’s Crystalline Silica Standard for general industry and maritime employers. The guidance is intended to help small businesses understand and comply with the standard.

OSHA’s guidance details the steps that employers must take to protect employees from the hazards associated with exposure to silica. Workers who inhale respirable crystalline silica are at a higher risk of developing serious lung diseases such as silicosis, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They are also at an increased risk of developing kidney disease.

Crystalline silica is a common mineral found in naturally occurring and synthetic materials such as stone countertops and sand. Respirable crystalline silica is made up of very tiny particles of silica, typically more than 100 times smaller than ordinary sandbox sand. Workers may be exposed to these very small particles during the manufacture of products such as glass, pottery, ceramics, brick, concrete, and artificial stone. Exposures may also occur during abrasive blasting with sand and with the use of industrial sand.

The standard for general industry and maritime employers goes into effect on June 23, 2018. OSHA delayed the enforcement date for the construction industry until September 23, 2017.


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