OSHA announces enforcement, compliance initiative to protect workers from silica exposure in engineered stone fabrication, installation

OSHA supplements current efforts to address serious workplace danger

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor announced that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration today launched a new initiative focused on enhancing enforcement and providing compliance assistance to protect workers in the engineered stone fabrication and installation industries.

“Many workers in the engineering stone industry are experiencing illnesses so severe that they’re unable to breathe – much less work a full shift – because of their exposure to silica dust,” explained Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “Among them is a 27-year-old worker in California who went to an emergency room with shortness of breath in 2022 and whose lung biopsy later revealed he had silicosis. Since then, he has been on an oxygen tank and unable to support his wife and three young children financially.”

Supplementing OSHA’s current National Emphasis Program for Respirable Crystalline Silica, this initiative will focus enforcement efforts on industry employers to make sure they’re following required safety standards and providing workers with the protections required to keep them healthy. It establishes procedures for prioritizing federal OSHA inspections to identify and ensure prompt abatement of hazards in covered industries where workers face exposure to high levels of silica dust.

OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health identify silica dust exposure as a health hazard for workers involved in manufacturing, finishing and installing natural and manufactured stone, which includes the man-made, engineered artificial or cultured types.

When inhaled, very small crystalline silica particles expose workers to the risk of silicosis, an incurable, progressively disabling and sometimes fatal lung disease. Unsafe silica dust exposure can also lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or kidney disease.

Industries subject to the prioritized programmed inspections include those engaged in Cut Stone and Stone Product Manufacturing as well as Brick, Stone and Related Construction Material Merchant Wholesalers. Outreach efforts will continue to include additional industries that may work with engineered stone.

A July 2023 study released by the American Medical Association underscores the dangers for workers in these industries. The “Silicosis Among Immigrant Engineered Stone Countertop Fabrication Workers in California” study cited 52 male patients diagnosed with silicosis caused by occupational exposure to respirable silica dust from engineered stone. Of these patients, 20 suffered progressive massive fibrosis, 11 needed lung transplants and 10 died due to their exposures.

As part of the initiative, OSHA is sending affected employers and stakeholders information on the initiative, including fact sheets on dust control methods and safer work practices for engineered stone manufacturing, finishing and installation operations.

Learn more about crystalline silica.


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by OSHA

MSHA will extend comment period for proposed changes to standards to better protect miners from hazardous silica dust levels

Comment period extended to Sept. 11, 2023

WASHINGTON– The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that its Mine Safety and Health Administration will extend the public comment period on proposed amendments to existing federal standards that protect the nation’s miners from health hazards related to workplace exposure of respirable crystalline silica, or silica dust.

MSHA will extend the comment period from Aug. 28, 2023 to Sept. 11, 2023, adding 15 days to the process. The extension responds to requests from the mining community and other interested parties for additional time to develop and submit comments on the proposal. The agency received and considered requests to extend and to not further delay the comment period.

“Several interested parties requested that the Department of Labor provide additional time to prepare and submit comments. Upon careful consideration, we have decided to extend the comment period for 15 days and to promptly provide notice of the extension to the mining community,” said Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson.

The agency published the notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register on July 13, 2023.

The proposed change will ensure miners have at least the same level of protections as workers in other industries. It would require mine operators to maintain miners’ Permissible Exposure Limit to respirable crystalline silica at or below 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air for a full shift exposure, calculated as an 8-hour time weighted average. If a miner’s exposure exceeds the limit, the proposed rule would require operators to take immediate corrective actions to come into compliance.

In addition to reducing the existing exposure limit, the proposal also includes other requirements to protect miners’ health — such as exposure sampling — and medical surveillance at no cost for metal and nonmetal miners. It would also replace existing outdated requirements for respiratory protection with a standard that reflects the latest advances in respiratory protection technologies and practices.

Read the comment period extension notice.


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by MSHA

US Department of Labor announces proposed rule to reduce silica dust exposure, better protect miners’ health

Original article published by MSHA

Unhealthy levels of silica dust linked to serious workplace illnesses

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a proposal by its Mine Safety and Health Administration to amend current federal standards to better protect the nation’s miners from health hazards related to exposure to respirable crystalline silica, or silica dust. The proposed rule change will ensure miners have at least the same level of protections as workers in other industries.

Unhealthy levels of silica, a carcinogen, and exposures over time cause severe illnesses, including silicosis; progressive massive fibrosis; non-malignant respiratory disease, such as emphysema; kidney disease; and lung cancer. Exposure to mixed coal mine dust that contains respirable crystalline silica can lead to the development of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, commonly known as black lung disease; multi-dust pneumoconiosis; and progressive massive fibrosis.

The proposed rule would require mine operators to maintain miners’ Permissible Exposure Limit to respirable crystalline silica at or below 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air for a full shift exposure, calculated as an 8-hour time weighted average. If a miner’s exposure exceeds the limit, the proposed rule would require operators to take immediate corrective actions to come into compliance.

“The purpose of this proposed rule is simple: prevent more miners from suffering from debilitating and deadly occupational illnesses by reducing their exposure to silica dust. Silica overexposures have a real-life impact on a miner’s health,” explained Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson. “Miners like a crusher operator at a California sand and gravel mine or a roof bolter in a West Virginia coal mine should never be forced to choose between preserving their health and providing for themselves and their families. This proposed rule furthers the Mine Act’s clear instruction to prioritize miners’ health.”

In addition to reducing the existing exposure limit, the proposal also includes other requirements to protect miners’ health — such as exposure sampling — and medical surveillance at no cost for metal and nonmetal miners. It would also replace existing outdated requirements for respiratory protection with a standard that reflects the latest advances in respiratory protection technologies and practices.

Following the proposed rule’s publication in the Federal Register, MSHA will welcome public comments and announce dates for upcoming public hearings in Arlington, Virginia, and Denver, Colorado. The hearings will be open for in-person or online participation.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Protecting construction, surface mining workers from silica dust: CPWR publishes new resources

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Photo: CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training

Silver Spring, MD — Three new resources from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training are intended to help prevent silica exposure among construction and surface mining workers who operate mobile equipment in enclosed cabs.

The hazard alert card, toolbox talk, and dealer/rental fact sheet are available in English and Spanish.

In the hazard alert, CPWR advises that, before work begins, cabs of mobile equipment be examined for issues with:
The air filtration system: Inspect filters for damage or airflow bypass.
The cab structure: Inspect daily for any holes, gaps or cracks around doors, windows, joints, controls and power-line entries. Silicone caulk or rubber gaskets can be used to repair and seal damaged areas.
Air pressure: Check the pressure gauge daily to ensure it’s working properly, and monitor the pressure throughout the workday to ensure positive air pressure is maintained and dusty air is kept out.

Enclosed cabs should have a communication system that allows operators to speak with other workers without having to open a door or window. Cabs should be cleaned and properly maintained to ensure proper working order of closing mechanisms, gaskets and all seals.

The toolbox talk tells the story of Grace and the result of her exposure to silica dust at work, and the fact sheet is designed to help businesses that rent or sell equipment understand the requirements of OSHA and Mine Safety and Health Administration standards on silica dust.

McCraren Compliance can help. We offer Silica training and Protection Plans required by OSHA.