US Dept of Labor

Occupational Safety & Health AdministrationWe Can Help

OSHA News Release - Table of Contents
Trade News Release Banner Image

Trade Release
Sept. 15, 2009
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA document describes silica control

WASHINGTON - Controlling Silica Exposures in Construction, a guidance document recently published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration addresses the control of worker exposure to dust containing crystalline silica, known to cause the lung disease silicosis.

The publication, intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace, includes methods for controlling silica such as wet cutting during construction operations. Wet cutting controls silica dust generated when using hand-held saws, grinders and jackhammers. Wetting materials at the point of impact makes the dust particles heavier and more likely to stick to each other, reducing the chance of dust becoming airborne.

Vacuum dust collection systems also effectively control silica by drawing dust particles away from the worker's breathing zone and depositing them into a filtered dust collection chamber.

"Workers in the construction trades not only suffer serious injuries and illnesses resulting from unsafe equipment but also from inhaling harmful dusts," said acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab. "Providing guidance for reducing potentially fatal hazards associated with occupational exposure to silica dust is one of this agency's priorities."

Employers should conduct periodic monitoring of silica exposure by testing air samples at the construction site to determine if the level of silica in the air exceeds the permissible exposure limit (PEL) outlined in the construction PEL standard. As one of OSHA's areas of emphasis, the agency has developed standards for silica to assure work practice controls are effective.

For more information, visit OSHA's Safety and Health Topics page on crystalline silica.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to assure safe and healthful working conditions for America's men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit


U.S. Labor Department releases are accessible on the Internet at The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7828 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit

OSHA News Release - Table of Contents

Thank You for Visiting Our Website

You are exiting the Department of Labor's Web server.

The Department of Labor does not endorse, takes no responsibility for, and exercises no control over the linked organization or its views, or contents, nor does it vouch for the accuracy or accessibility of the information contained on the destination server. The Department of Labor also cannot authorize the use of copyrighted materials contained in linked Web sites. Users must request such authorization from the sponsor of the linked Web site. Thank you for visiting our site. Please click the button below to continue.