- Safety and Health Topics
OSHA's Respirable Crystalline Silica standard for general industry and maritime requires employers to limit worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica and to take other steps to protect workers.
Among other things, the standard requires employers to:
- Assess employee exposures to silica if it may be at or above an action level of 25 µg/m3 (micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air), averaged over an 8-hour day;
- Protect workers from respirable crystalline silica exposures above the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, averaged over an 8-hour day;
- Limit workers' access to areas where they could be exposed above the PEL;
- Use dust controls to protect workers from silica exposures above the PEL;
- Provide respirators to workers when dust controls cannot limit exposures to the PEL;
- Use housekeeping methods that do not create airborne dust, if feasible;
- Establish and implement a written exposure control plan that identifies tasks that involve exposure and methods used to protect workers;
- Offer medical exams - including chest X-rays and lung function tests - every three years for workers exposed at or above the action level for 30 or more days per year;
- Train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure; and
- Keep records of exposure measurements, objective data, and medical exams.
General industry and maritime employers must comply with all requirements of the standard by June 23, 2018, except for the following:
Medical surveillance must be offered to employees who will be exposed at or above the action level for 30 or more days a year starting on June 23, 2020. (Medical surveillance must be offered to employees who will be exposed above the PEL for 30 or more days a year starting on June 23, 2018.)
Hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry must implement engineering controls to limit exposures to the new PEL by June 23, 2021.
Until June 23, 2018, general industry and maritime employers must limit employee exposure to respirable crystalline silica to the previous PELs:
General Industry (29 CFR 1910)
Maritime (29 CFR 1915)
- 1915.1000, Air contaminants
General Industry and Maritime Outreach Materials
Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry and Maritime. Discusses suggested engineering and work practice controls, exposure assessments, respirator use, medical surveillance, written exposure control plans, and other aspects of compliance.
General Industry and Maritime Fact Sheet. Provides a summary covering the requirements of the respirable crystalline silica standard for general industry and maritime.
OSHA Standards, Interpretations, and Directives
General Industry and Maritime Standard (29 CFR 1910)
- 1910.1053, Respirable Crystalline Silica
- Search all available directives.
- Search all available standard interpretations.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Search all available frequently asked questions (FAQs) for the silica rule.
There are twenty-eight OSHA-approved State Plans, operating state-wide occupational safety and health programs. State Plans are required to have standards and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA's and may have different or more stringent requirements.
General Industry and Maritime Resources
- Silica. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Safety and Health Topic. Provides information about silica as well as links to related publications and references.
- Controlling Silica Dust from Foundry Casting-Cleaning Operations. U.S. 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.
- 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. U.S. 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.
- CPWR's Sample Written Exposure Control Plans
- Silicosis Prevention Furthered by NIOSH Pilot Program Aiding Identification of Cases in Seven Participating States. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Update, (1997, March 25). Describes a program used to gather occupational information on silicosis disease and silica exposures.
- OSHA NIOSH Hazard Alert: Worker Exposure to Silica during Countertop Manufacturing, Finishing and Installation. This Hazard Alert discusses ways to protect workers from significant crystalline silica exposure during manufacturing, finishing, and installing natural and manufactured stone countertops. The Hazard Alert follows reports of 46 workers in Spain and 25 workers in Israel who developed silicosis as a result of exposure to crystalline silica in their work manufacturing stone countertops.
- OSHA NIOSH Hazard Alert: Worker Exposure to Silica During Hydraulic Fracturing. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2012-166, (2012). This Hazard Alert discusses the health hazards associated with hydraulic fracturing and focuses on worker exposures to silica in the air. It covers the health effects of breathing silica, recommends ways to protect workers, and describes how OSHA and NIOSH can help.
- OSHA Fact Sheet: Protecting Workers from the Hazards of Abrasive Blasting Materials. OSHA Publication 3697, (2013).
- Video: "Don't Let Silica Dust You!" Produced by the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics with support from NIOSH, the California Department of Public Health, San Francisco Bay area bricklayers and roofers unions, and other partners, the video describes the use of controls and identifies enablers and barriers for reducing workplace exposure to crystalline silica.
- OSHA Clinicians page. The page provides information for clinicians to understand important ethical, regulatory, and clinical issues.