Silica Resources

Silicosis: Incurable but Preventable

There is no cure for silicosis. When an aggressive form of silicosis is present in the lungs, scarring progresses rapidly. There is no effective medication to halt the scarring. The only treatment for silicosis is prevention: avoiding exposure to respirable silica dust.

Employers can prevent silicosis and keep employees safe by providing the following:

  • Training
  • Air monitoring and adherence to air quality requirements
  • Engineering controls and housekeeping practices
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Medical surveillance in compliance with OSHA regulations

Protecting employees from respirable crystalline silica and silicosis should be one of the most important objectives of every company in the hard-surface industry.

NOTE:  we encourage stone companies to remind customers that silicosis is an occupational hazard and is not a danger to homeowners or other end-users.

OSHA Silica Rule

OSHA Releases Final Silica Ruling

Visit the official OSHA Silica Safety web page

OSHA released its long-anticipated rule reducing the permissible exposure level (PEL) for crystalline silica for general industry and construction.  The rule cuts the respirable silica PEL from 100 µg/m3for an 8-hour time weighted average to 50 µg/m3. The rule was broken into two separate standards—one for the General Industry & Maritime (affecting employees in stone fabrication shops), and one for Construction (affecting employees working at jobsites in the field).  OSHA’s Silica Rule went into effect on June 23, 2016.

Since a portion of the stone industry will be covered under the “construction” standard and others under the “general industry” standard, the following documents and links are provided for quick reference:

Employers covered by the Construction Standard had until September 23, 2017 to comply with most requirements outlined in the standard. Employers covered by the maritime and General Industry Standard will have until June 23, 2018 (two years from the effective date) to comply. 

Companies are encouraged to assess their current silica exposure risks and safety efforts to ensure they are compliant with the new OSHA ruling.  In fabrication shops where no monitoring has occurred, it is recommended to conduct breathing zone sampling. Continue to utilize wet cutting and other 'best practices' that limit silica exposure whenever possible.

Impact on the Stone Industry

The impact of this proposal on the natural stone industry (as well as man-made quartz materials, concrete, and others in the construction industry), would be as follows:

  • Exposure limit — The current occupational exposure limit has been cut by 50% over the formula used prior to 2016.
  • Is your company compliant? All stone companies are encouraged to review their current silica exposure measurements to assure they are in compliance with the OSHA ruling. In cases where no monitoring has occurred, it is recommended to conduct up-to-date breathing zone sampling.
  • Utilize this time to look at your entire safety training program – there may be no better time to take a few moments to meet with your company’s safety committee.  Ask yourself:
    1. Are your training logs current? 
    2. Do you have ongoing training or “toolbox talk” sessions?
    3. Does any of your safety equipment need to be replaced or upgraded?
  • Preparing for an OSHA visit – with the new OSHA exposure limits enacted, everyone must recognize that the OSHA ruling means more scrutiny for the entire stone industry.  Be proactive!
  • Remember – there is no cure for silicosis, but with the proper equipment, training, vigilance and continual monitoring, you and your shop can be free of the dangers of the most occupational lung disease in the world: Silicosis.

Natural Stone Institute Training Resources:

Silica & Slab Safety Certificate
Includes training and materials for silicosis, silica safety, slab handling, and implementing a silica exposure control plan.  Updated in 2023. This training certificate must be renewed every two years.

FAQs for Cal/OSHA Emergency Standard
Frequently Asked Questions regarding Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) for Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS)

Silicosis: An Industry Guide for Awareness and Prevention
Revised in 2020 to reflect current OSHA regulations.

Silica Exposure Control Plan for General Industry
Document to help satisfy one of the steps for compliance.

OSHA Inspection Planning Checklist
A general overview of policies and items needed to be prepared in advance of an OSHA inspection.

For additional safety training resources, courses, videos, and links – click here.

Safety programming is supported by the members of the NSI Safety Committee:


The Natural Stone Foundation provided a generous grant to fund the 2023 update to the Silica & Slab Safety Certificate.


Use Natural Stone

Genuine. Versatile. Unique. Durable. Sustainable. Easy to Maintain.