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Crystalline Silica Information for NECA Contractors

On September 12, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a proposed rule on Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica. OSHA has set an enforcement date of September 23, 2017 to comply with the Final Rule on Crystalline Silica.

OSHA-Crystalline-Silica-Rule-GuidebooksNECA members and safety professionals should review OSHA documentation related to these regulations (attached below and available via the OSHA website) to stay abreast of the current rules and information about silica related injury and illness in construction.

Visit to view the rule

What is Crystalline Silica?

silica-oshaSilica is one of the most abundant substances on earth and is most commonly found as sand or quartz. Silica is ubiquitous on construction sites by virtue of its presence in many commonly used construction materials and products such as concrete, bricks, stone, asphalt, tile, and countertops.
  • Very jagged micro sized crystallized glass type shards (Quartz, Cristobalite, Tridymite) The most common element on the earth’s surface.
  • Extremely dangerous to lungs,
  • Eventually fatal to humans upon continued, extended, uncontrolled ingestion.
  • Sand + Heat = Glass = small micro bits = Crystalline Silica.
  • Micro silica glass shards respiratory system tissue cutters

What are the Current Requirements?

OSHA measures silica by Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL), which is the maximum amount of silica to which a worker may be exposed to during an 8-hour shift. The current PEL for silica exposure for the construction industry is 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

OSHA’s proposal reduces the PEL from 250 to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. However, OSHA has not shown that the proposed PEL can be met by the construction industry in most operations most of the time.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a 93 percent drop in silica-related deaths between 1968 and 2007. If OSHA finalizes the proposal, the Agency will miss the opportunity to emphasize compliance of the current standard and to work with industry to improve awareness.

About the CISC


The Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC), an organization made up of 25 trade associations including NECA, represents associations from all sectors of the construction industry, including commercial building, heavy industrial production, home building, road repair, specialty trade contractors and material suppliers. Workplace safety and health is a priority for all members of the coalition, and each is committed to helping create safer construction jobsites for workers.

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