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Control Measures

Controlling the exposure to silica may be done through engineering controls, administrative actions, and personal protective equipment. Engineering controls include such things as replacing silica with a material that does not contain crystalline silica (substitution); using local exhaust ventilation; using containment methods, such as blast-cleaning machines and cabinets; and wet sawing or wet drilling of silica-containing materials. Administrative actions may include limiting workers exposure time and requiring workers to shower and change into clean clothes before leaving a worksite. 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.

  • Crystalline Silica Exposure in General Industry. OSHA Health Hazard Information Card. Also available as a 52 KB PDF*, 2 pages. Provides health hazard information and good work practices for workers.
  • Controlling Silica Dust from Foundry Casting-Cleaning Operations. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 98-106 (Hazard Controls 23), (1997, December). The local exhaust ventilation system described in this document may keep worker exposures to respirable silica below permissible limits and eliminate the need for workers to wear respirators.
  • A Guide to Working Safely With Silica: If It's Silica, It's Not Just Dust [213 KB PDF, 21 pages]. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), (1997, January 31). Provides information about the health hazards of silica and suggests ways to prevent silicosis.
  • Dust Monitoring and Control Downloadable Mining Publications. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Mining Safety and Health Research.
  • Dust Control Handbook for Industrial Minerals Mining and Processing. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2012-112, (January 2012). Handbook covering engineering controls in mining operations for reducing dust generation and limiting worker exposure.
  • Dust Control Handbook for Minerals Processing. US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, (1987, February). Contains valuable information on preventing dust formation and dust control systems.
  • Safe Sandblast Cleaning [115 KB PDF, 2 pages]. Manitoba Safe Work Bulletin 153, (1999, April). Discusses controls required for sandblasting, including respiratory protection, personal protective equipment (PPE), work practices, and other sandblasting equipment requirements.
  • Profitt-Henry A. "Silica overexposure in sandblasting." Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene 15.7(2000, July): 537-9. Discusses silica problems at a sandblasting operation, and how to eliminate the hazard.

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.


Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Standards and Guidance at (202) 693-1950 for assistance accessing DOC, EPS, GIF, MP4, PDF, PPT or XLS documents.

*These files are provided for downloading.