OSHA’s New Silica Standard (Respirable Silica Rules)


OSHA has updated the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) effective September 23rd, 2017. The new PEL limits exposure to 50 micrograms of RCS per cubic meter of air during an 8-hour work shift. We have created a Silica Safety Checklist to assist you in ensuring that your workplace is OSHA compliant.  Find out if you are at risk for exposure to RCS. 

Failure to comply to the new RCS rule puts workers at considerable risk for developing or dying from a severe disease such as silicosis, kidney disease, lung disease, and lung cancer. In order to keep exposure at or below the PEL, using engineering controls and work practices such as using local exhaust ventilation or wet cutting is recommended. If these practices do not sufficiently lower RCS levels, the use of respirators is required.

As industry leaders, Seton offers a full range of safety products from warning signs, barricades, and respirators to help you work safely with RCS and keep your workplace OSHA compliant.

Frequently asked questions on the the new regulation:
  • Crystalline Silica is a mineral found in materials often used in industrial products and construction sites.
  • Sand, concrete, stone, and mortar are examples of materials containing crystalline silica.
  • Crystalline Silica is also used to manufacture materials such as glass, pottery, ceramics, bricks, concrete and artificial stone.
  • Crystalline Silica in its natural state is not inherently harmful, however Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) is extremely hazardous when inhaled.
  • RCS is created from high energy activities such as drilling and sawing with silica containing materials.
  • Silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease are diseases that can come from repeatedly inhaling RCS.
  • An estimated 2.3 million workers are exposed to Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) through their job.
  • RCS is released in the air from abrasive activities with materials that contain crystalline silica.
  • Such activities include: cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling and crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick, block or mortar; when using industrial sand; abrasive blasting with sand; sawing brick or concrete; sanding or drilling into concrete walls; grinding mortar; and manufacturing brick, concrete blocks, or ceramic products.
  • OSHA expects to prevent 600 silica related deaths per year by requiring employers to use engineering controls, provide protective equipment, and place warning signs for employees working with Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS).
  • Once the updated RCS rule is in full effect, OSHA expects to prevent more than 900 cases of silicosis per year.
  • Engineering controls include dust suppression with water (wet cutting), local exhaust ventilation systems, HEPA vacuum cleaners, and ventilation hoses.

All information has been gathered from OSHA.gov.