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NEW 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.

  • 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.
  • Safe Sandblast Cleaning. 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) 693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

All other documents, that are not PDF materials or formatted for the web, are available as Microsoft Office® formats and videos and are noted accordingly. If additional assistance is needed with reading, reviewing or accessing these documents or any figures and illustrations, please also contact OSHA's Directorate of Standards and Guidance at (202) 693-1999.

**eBooks - EPUB is the most common format for e-Books. If you use a Sony Reader, a Nook, or an iPad you can download the EPUB file format. If you use a Kindle, you can download the MOBI file format.

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