Crystalline silica is a common mineral found in the earth's crust. Materials like sand, stone, concrete, and mortar contain crystalline silica. It is also used to make products such as glass, pottery, ceramics, bricks, and artificial stone.
Respirable crystalline silica – very small particles at least 100 times smaller than ordinary sand you might find on beaches and playgrounds – is created when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, and crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar. Activities such as abrasive blasting with sand; sawing brick or concrete; sanding or drilling into concrete walls; grinding mortar; manufacturing brick, concrete blocks, stone countertops, or ceramic products; and cutting or crushing stone result in worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica dust. Industrial sand used in certain operations, such as foundry work and hydraulic fracturing (fracking), is also a source of respirable crystalline silica exposure. About 2.3 million people in the U.S. are exposed to silica at work.
Workers who inhale these very small crystalline silica particles are at increased risk of developing serious silica-related diseases, including:
Silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death;
To better protect workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica, OSHA has issued two new respirable crystalline silica standards: one for construction, and the other for general industry and maritime. OSHA will begin enforcing most provisions of the standard for construction on September 23, 2017, and will begin enforcing most provisions of the standard for general industry and maritime on June 23, 2018.
A Word from Susan Miller of BIA (Brick Industry Association) specifically to VMA Members
Here are the steps that I would recommend that VMA Members take:
1. Review Table 1 (see 2nd .pdf below) and see if EVERYTHING you do at a
work site is covered. If it is, you do not have to work on the
exposure assessments/measurements. If something is not covered, you
will need to look into the exposure assessments.
2. Even if you are covered by Table 1, you need to still do several additional
things - these are summarized in one of the first pages of the
implementation manual (see 1st .pdf below).
3. Start development of the written plan