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A Silica and Slab Safety Training Program is available through the Natural Stone University, thanks to the support of the NSI Safety Committee and the Natural Stone Foundation. We encourage the industry to use these resources and collaborate to prioritize employee safety and prevent silicosis.
In occupational health and safety, few topics are as crucial as understanding and managing the risks associated with crystalline silica dust. We’ve gathered an extensive repository of knowledge to address concerns about crystalline silica dust. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, please read the industry guide to awareness and prevention to ensure a healthier and safer work environment.
Our Frequently Asked Questions is your go-to source for all things related to crystalline silica. Our FAQs provide comprehensive insights into silica dust safety, from regulations and compliance to effective exposure reduction methods. We’re committed to demystifying this critical topic and equipping you with the knowledge to make informed decisions.
As detailed by OSHA, wet cutting is the most effective method to reduce exposure to silica dust during various industrial activities, like dry cutting, grinding and polishing processes. Join us in our efforts to safeguard stone workers from the potential dangers of silica dust. Knowledge is power, and we urge everyone to prioritize safety and control silica exposures in construction.
Legal limits for the degree to which workers may be exposed to occupational hazards without suffering harm are known as Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL).
- OSHA’s rule for the PEL for crystalline silica is 50 µg/m3 (as an 8-hour time-weighted average).
- The Action Level (indicates certain required activities) is half of the PEL: 25 µg/m3 (as an 8-hour time-weighted average).
Federal OSHA’s silica regulations affecting employees in stone fabrication shops, and another for Construction, impacting employees working at field job sites. To aid in compliance, we have provided the following documents and links for quick reference:
- OSHA Fact Sheet: Construction Standard
- OSHA Fact Sheet: General Industry Standard
- Federal OSHA General Industry Silica Standard
- Federal OSHA Construction Silica Standard
- OSHA Fact Sheet: Final Review Overview
- OSHA Final Rule (complete 1,772 page document)
- OSHA Table 1 (helpful to those using the Construction Standard)
- California General Industry Silica Safety Order
- California Construction Silica Safety Order
The Silica Safety Coalition is diligently working to ensure the widespread adoption of wet processing technology across stone-cutting facilities. Compliance with state and federal OSHA-mandated air monitoring standards and other silica rules is paramount. The Silica Safety Coalition is resolute in our commitment to safety, striving to create a secure working environment for all stone workers.
California Fast-Tracks Rules to Protect Stonecutters
Existing rules are already in place to protect California workers from respirable crystalline silica, and California regulators are expediting additional safety rules to protect countertop fabrication workers from Silicosis due to toxic silica dust. Safety issues are not associated with finished stone countertops themselves. Instead, potential safety concerns revolve around the inhalation of silica dust, a risk that arises during the cutting, polishing, and fabrication of stone products. It is important to note that these issues pertain to the fabrication and installation processes rather than the finished stone product.
Using proper wet-cutting controls effectively reduces the risk of silica dust exposure by suppressing dust particles and preventing airborne dispersion, thereby decreasing the likelihood of employee inhalation.
It’s important for consumers to feel confident using stone products, whether artificial or natural. Consumers should understand that consumer health is NOT at risk from these countertops.
The concerns surrounding stone countertops revolve around the workers’ occupational health in the fabrication and installation processes. Once the countertop is installed at a home or business, there is no such exposure.
Dry vs. Wet Practices
Consumers should know the industry’s distinction between dry and wet practices. Dry cutting, grinding, and polishing stone can pose more health risks due to generating airborne particles. The Silica Safety Coalition strongly advocates adopting wet practices that reduce these risks and create safer working conditions for industry professionals. Preventing Silicosis hinges on effective dust control measures. Employers and employees can employ well-established techniques, such as effective wet cutting to prevent dust from becoming airborne. These strategies help mitigate the risk of respirable crystalline silica dust exposure.