Silica Safety & General Construction


—On September 12, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) formally issued its proposed rulemaking to limit and control respirable crystalline silica exposures in general industry and construction. It is one of the most significant and comprehensive health rulemakings undertaken by OSHA. The proposal would cut the workplace permissible exposure limits (PELs) for respirable crystalline silica by half or more, to 50 mg/cu.m for all industries, and would establish a first-ever Action Level for silica exposure at 25 mg/cu.m.

—The proposed regulation also includes a variety of ancillary requirements to accompany this tighter exposure limit, including requirements that employers must conduct frequent exposure monitoring for crystalline silica, provide medical surveillance for some workers, identify work zones where exposures may exceed the PEL, mark these zones and limit access to them, provide training regarding silica hazards, and more. The proposed regulation also includes several requirements that restrict common activities that may increase silica exposures such as sweeping and using compressed air, and it requires installation of engineering controls such as mechanical ventilation to reduce exposures even if not effective (use of respirators does not count toward meeting the new PEL).

—We ask that you fill out a survey on your operations that will provide us with vital information to help craft our comments in regard to the economic and technological feasibility of this rulemaking.

—In advance, thank you for taking time to fill out the AFS Crystalline Silica Survey. Please fax your response to Fred Kohloff, AFS EHS Department, at 847/824-7848 or email it to  If you have any questions, call Fred at 800/537-4237 x230. All responses received from the survey and subsequent correspondence will remain confidential. If you have any questions regarding the survey or are willing to share cost estimates or experience with control measures for reducing silica exposures, please contact Fred.

—Thank you,

—Jerry Call

—AFS Executive Vice President