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Silica, Crystalline

Silica, Crystalline - Photo Credit: OSHA | Copyright: OSHA
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Visit OSHA's Final Rule on Respirable Crystalline Silica page for information on the new final rule.

Control Measures

OSHA’s longstanding policy is that engineering and work practice controls must be the primary means used to reduce employee exposure to toxic chemicals, as far as feasible, and that respiratory protection is required to be used when engineering or work practice controls are infeasible or while they are being implemented.

Where possible, silica should be eliminated or substituted with a safer option. Engineering controls should then be considered, such as using local exhaust ventilation, using containment methods (e.g., blast-cleaning machines and cabinets), and wet sawing or wet drilling of silica-containing materials. Administrative or work practice controls may be appropriate in some cases where engineering controls cannot be implemented or when different procedures are needed after implementation of the new engineering controls. Administrative actions may include limiting workers’ exposure time and requiring workers to shower and change into clean clothes before leaving a worksite. Personal protection equipment is the least desirable, but may still be effective. Use of personal protective equipment may include wearing proper respiratory protection to keep workers' exposure below the OSHA permissible exposure limit and the use of personal protective clothing.

The following references aid in controlling silica hazards in the workplace.

Resources for the Construction Industry

Controlling the exposure to silica in construction can be done through engineering controls, administrative actions, and personal protective equipment (PPE), similar to practices in other industries. Engineering controls include such things as replacing silica with another material (substitution), isolating an exposure source, and using ventilation systems. Administrative actions include limiting workers’ exposure time and providing showers. Use of PPE includes wearing proper respiratory protection and protective clothing. The following references aid in controlling crystalline silica hazards in the workplace.

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