OSHA Offers Information Cards for Crystalline Silica

March 13, 2003
The hazards of exposure to crystalline silica exposure and protection measures from the dust are detailed in new OSHA health hazard information cards available in English and Spanish.

The cards, titled "Crystalline Silica Exposure," were designed to provide a quick reference and recommendations for construction and general industries.

"Inhaling crystalline silica dust can be extremely dangerous and sometimes deadly," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "This card provides practical information on how to identify, reduce and prevent exposure to silica dust."

Silica exposure remains a serious threat to nearly 2 million U.S. workers. The most severe worker exposures can occur during abrasive blasting with sand. Other common exposures to silica dust can occur during the manufacturing of cement and brick; mixing or drilling concrete and mortar; and the manufacturing of china, ceramic and asphalt.

The new, pocket-sized cards identify the symptoms of silicosis and the most common causes of occupational exposure. The cards also outline ways to protect against exposure to silica dust, including recommendations for appropriate use of respirators and personal protective equipment.

Crystalline silica is a basic component of soil, sand, granite and many other materials. It is classified as a human lung carcinogen. Breathing silica dust can cause silicosis, a potentially disabling or fatal disease. Silicosis can also make exposed workers more susceptible to lung infections like tuberculosis.

OSHA's permissible exposure limit (PEL) limits the maximum amount of crystalline silica that a worker can be exposed to during an eight-hour work shift. OSHA also requires hazard communication training for workers exposed to crystalline silica and a respirator protection program.

The Crystalline Silica Exposure cards are free-of-charge and can also be downloaded from the publications page on OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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