New Silica Standard for General Industry-August 2017

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety

August 2017

IN THIS ISSUE: New Silica Standard for General Industry

The Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry 1910.1053 is due to be enforced on June 23, 2018. The actual rule took effect on June 23, 2016, but OSHA delayed enforcement for 2 years. The purpose of the rule is to decrease the occurrence of disease in workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Silica has been shown to cause cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease.

According to OSHA, the most severe exposures to crystalline silica result from sandblasting, which may be done to clean sand and irregularities from foundry castings, finish tombstones, etch or frost glass, or remove paint, oils, rust, or dirt from objects that will be repainted or treated. Other exposures to dust from sand occur in cement manufacturing, asphalt pavement manufacturing, and the foundry industry. Crystalline silica is used in the electronics industry and in manufacturing abrasives, paints, soaps, and glass. Calcined diatomaceous earth, which can contain crystalline silica, is used for filtration in food and beverage production. Other industries may also have tasks that use silica.

Unlike the new silica rule for construction that is due to for enforcement on September 23, 2017, the standard for General Industry does not give specific controls for each task that involves silica exposure. General Industry employers must evaluate and test each task where employees may be exposed and institute effective engineering and administrative controls that bring exposures below the new Permissible Exposure Limit of 50 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) and below 25 ug/m3 to be fully compliant with the regulation. If jobs are identified where exposure may exceed the PEL, employers must do the following:

  • Develop a written exposure control plan.
  • Inform employees of their exposure to crystalline silica.
  • Conduct quarterly air sampling.
  • Provide respiratory protection.
  • Implement feasible engineering and administrative controls to lower employee exposure levels.
  • Restrict entry into areas of high exposure and use designated signage.
  • Develop specific housekeeping procedures.
  • Provide medical monitoring.
  • Develop and implement a training program.
  • Maintain records.

Now is the time to implement a crystalline silica compliance program.

For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or visit us at


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