Silica Information, Dan Napier, MS, CIH

Recent changes -2016- have impacted any Company working with many different products are impacted.  You may need to have a Silica Program for your Company.  We have developed a program that addresses the minimum OSHA requirements for a Silica Program. 

Here is a brief discussion about who may be impacted.

Construction or Manufacturing work that involves exposure to crystalline silica containing materials can cause lung diseases. These silica containing materials include (but are not limited to):

•    Airborne sand
•    Rock
•    Ceramic and terracotta tiles
•    Concrete and concrete block
•    Manufactured stone
•    Bricks and blocks
•    Grouts and mortar
•    Some joint compounds
•    Abrasive materials
•    Roof tile

Exposure to crystalline silica can cause a variety of lung diseases including silicosis, lung cancer, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), decreased lung function, and increased likelihood of getting tuberculosis. Although most cases of silicosis develop after years of exposure, instances of extremely high exposure have resulted in illness and even death in a matter of weeks. Airborne permissible exposure limits (PEL) are established for several different forms of crystalline silica. These limits range from 0.05 to 0.1 mg/m3 of respirable dust, expressed as an 8 hour TWA (see Table AC-1 of 5155). Hazardous work activities include abrasive blasting with sand and loading, dumping, chipping, hammering, cutting, and drilling of rock, sand, or concrete. Generally during work on materials, such as rock or concrete that contain a significant amount of silica (20% or greater), continuous exposure to a visible cloud of dust will probably result in levels of exposure that exceed the PEL. However, in some cases the PEL can be exceeded even when there is no visible cloud of dust.

We have found respirable silica levels of concern from work including --abrasive blasting, gunite installation, concrete cutting, traffic stripe removal--the list goes on.  You will need to develop a customized plan for your company for silica.  That plan will need to be , simple, easy to understand and cover all the CalOSHA--OSHA requirements.  There is a copy of the CalOSHA code here, I reformatted it to make it easier to understand.