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:
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 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.
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:
Silica & Slab Safety Certificate
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.
General Industry Silica Standard affecting workers in fabrication facilities goes into effect.
Construction Silica Standard affecting workers in the field at jobsites went into effect.
OSHA Releases Final Silica Ruling.