OSHA Extends Emphasis Program to Focus on Silica Exposure

OSHA has launched an initiative to increase the focus of agency inspections in several states on identifying, reducing or eliminating worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica in the general, maritime and construction industries. The states impacted so far include West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. The initiative extends OSHA’s National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Respirable Crystalline Silica. The NEP on respirable crystalline silica will target specific industries in states that are expected to have the highest numbers of workers exposed to silica. It will also focus on enforcement of two new silica standards — one for the general and maritime industries, and one for construction. 

“The goal of this NEP is to reduce or eliminate worker exposure to dangerous silica particles, and prevent the risk of workers developing serious silica-related diseases,” said OSHA Philadelphia Regional Administrator Michael Rivera.

Respirable crystalline silica consists of small silica particles that are generated by cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling and crushing materials such as stone, rock, concrete, brick, block and mortar. Inhaling the dust created during these operations can cause silicosis, an incurable lung disease, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease