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OSHA Rules on Silica Dust Exposure from Concrete Cutting

silica dust exposure

Our lungs are pretty happy about OSHA’s ruling on silica dust exposure.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently passed a final ruling to curb the detrimental effects of breathing in silica dust created from cutting and grinding materials like concrete and stone. The targeted inflictions include lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease. OSHA estimates that the new rule will save 600 lives each year, as well as preventing more than 900 cases of silicosis once the rules are fully in effect. Read on to learn a little more about the new rules on silica dust exposure for workplace safety.

What Exactly are the Rules?

The new rules for limiting silica dust exposure highlight the following key provisions.

  • Silica dust exposure must be limited to no more than 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air, as averaged over an 8-hour work shift.
  • Employers must take the following actions to regulate permissible exposure limit (PEL):
    • Employ engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to adhere to the PEL
    • Provide respirators when engineering controls are unable to successfully adhere to PEL
    • Limit worker access to high-exposure areas
    • Create a formal, written exposure control plan
    • Offer medical exams for highly-exposed workers
    • Train and educate employees about silica dust exposure risks and control.
  • The new ruling also provides flexibility to help employers, especially small businesses, protect their employees from silica dust exposure.

When Do They Take Effect?

About 2.3 million workers across construction and manufacturing industries are vulnerable to silica dust exposure throughout the year. That number will begin decreasing soon, as the above rules are to take effect on June 23, 2016. From there, industries will observe a schedule of compliance as follows:


  • Construction Industry must comply by June 23, 2017 — one year after the effective date.
  • General Industry, Hydraulic Fracturing, and Maritime must comply by June 23, 2018 — two years after the effective date.
  • Hydraulic Fracturing Engineering Controls must comply by June 23, 2021 — five years after the effective date.

For more information about the ruling and some background info on the dangers of silica dust exposure, check out the OSHA information page right here.

Workplace Safety with G & M Services

G & M Services, LLC is the ultimate resource for Drilling, Concrete Sawing, Ground Penetrating Radar, and Firestop Service for the Maryland, DC, and Virginia Areas. Our counties served include:

Maryland: Allegany, Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and St. Mary’s.

Virginia: Arlington, Dorchester, Fairfax, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Kent, Loudoun, and Prince William.

West Virginia: Berkley, Jefferson, Morgan, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico, and Worcester District of Columbia.

G & M Services has over 25 years of experience in the field. We are members of the CSDA, FCIA, and the National Safety Council. To Get Started With G & M Services, reach us by phone today at 410-787-8828 or visit our contact page.

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