Silica is an abundant mineral in the earth’s crust. When workers inhale crystalline silica dust, it can lead to silicosis, a disease characterized by scarring of lung tissue that can cause difficulty breathing, chest pain, severe cough, weakness, and other symptoms. There is no cure for silicosis, and it can be fatal. Silica exposure has also been linked to lung cancer, kidney disease, and other respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Activities and industries at risk for silica exposure include:

  • Construction, particularly during operations including masonry, grinding, using jackhammers, milling, rock crushing, drywall finishing, and using heavy equipment during earthmoving;
  • Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of oil and gas wells;
  • Foundry work;
  • Brick, concrete, and pottery manufacturing; and
  • Sandblasting.

In 2016, OSHA published a final rule reducing the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for silica. The final rule also includes requirements for medical surveillance and control methods. There are two separate standards: one for general industry and maritime (29 CFR 1910.1053), and one for construction (29 CFR 1926.1153).

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Silica (General Industry) 29 CFR 1910, 1915, and 1926 - Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica 03/25/2016National
Toxic and Hazardous Substances 01/24/2008 - CPL 03-00-007 - National Emphasis Program--Crystalline Silica 01/24/2008National
Respiratory Protection Assigned Protection Factor Table  National
Toxic and Hazardous Substances (Construction) Controlling Silica Exposures in Construction  National
Toxic and Hazardous Substances Crystalline Silica Fact Sheet (PDF) (Spanish)  National
Toxic and Hazardous Substances Crystalline Silica Safety Quiz (Word)  National
Silica (Construction) Crystalline silica: Controlling silica dust in construction  National
Respiratory Protection Employee Fit Testing Requirements  National
Respiratory Protection Hazard Assessment Sampling Data  National
Hazard Communication Hazard Communication  National
Hazard Communication HCS classification and labeling requirements for products containing crystalline silica [1910.1200; 1910.1200(b)(2); 1910.1200(c)] 02/10/2015National
Silica (General Industry) If a respirator protection plan is required due to an air sampling for silica dust being above the action level, can I only offer P95-P100 'dust masks'? 08/03/2016National
Silica (General Industry) Is there any distinct prohibition against the use of compressed air, where the use of that air is thought to be the "only" way to clean silica containing dusts off surfaces, or accomplish the end production result? 06/16/2017National
Job Hazard Analysis Job Hazard Analysis (Outline)  National
Silica (General Industry) Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica: FAQs for General Industry  National
Silica (Construction) Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica: FAQs for the Construction Industry  National
Silica (Construction) OSHA's crystalline silica rule: Construction  National
Silica (General Industry) OSHA's crystalline silica rule: General industry and maritime  National
Toxic and Hazardous Substances OSHA's Proposed Crystalline Silica Rule: Construction  National
Toxic and Hazardous Substances OSHA's Proposed Crystalline Silica Rule: General Industry and Maritime  National
Toxic and Hazardous Substances OSHA's Proposed Crystalline Silica Rule: Overview  National
Toxic and Hazardous Substances OSHA/NIOSH Hazard Alert: Worker Exposure to Silica During Hydraulic Fracturing  National
Permissible Exposure Limits Permissible Exposure Limits  National
Silica (General Industry) Preventing Silicosis (Outline)  National
Silica (Construction) Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction: Preventing Exposure  National
Silica (Construction) Respirable Crystalline Silica in Construction: Preventing Exposure  National
Respiratory Protection Respirator Care and Cleaning (Outline)  National
Respiratory Protection Respirator Inspection Checklist  National
Respiratory Protection Respiratory Protection  National
Respiratory Protection Respiratory Protection and Use (PDF)  National
Respiratory Protection Respiratory Protection Plan  National
Silica (General Industry) Silica  National
Silica (General Industry) Silica Dust in General Industry - Preventing Exposure  National
Silica (General Industry) Silica Dust Solutions  National
Toxic and Hazardous Substances Silica Exposure 101  National
Silica (General Industry) Silica Exposure Control Plan for General Industry  National
Silica (Construction) Silica Written Exposure Control Plan for Construction  National
Health - General Silicosis (Word)  National
Training (Construction) Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction  National
Silica (General Industry) Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry and Maritime  National
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