OSHA Establishes a New National Emphasis Program on Silica

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) to target worksites where employees are at risk for developing silicosis.

Exposure to silica threatens nearly two million American employees annually.  Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. said that under this program, OSHA will work diligently to maximize the protection of employees and eliminate workplace exposures to silica-related hazards.

The NEP compliance directive builds on policies and procedures instituted in the 1996 Special Emphasis Program and includes an updated list of industries commonly known to have overexposures to silica; detailed information on potential hazards linked to silica and about current research regarding silica exposure hazards; guidance on calculating the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for dust containing respirable crystalline silica in the construction and maritime industries; and guidance on conducting silica-related inspections.

Two additional elements included in the directive are an evaluation procedure for recording reductions of employee exposures to silica, as well as information on outreach programs, partnerships and alliances with employers to share resources and training to reduce employee exposures.

Silicosis is a disabling, nonreversible and sometimes fatal lung disease caused by breathing in a large amount of crystalline silica. Visit www.osha.gov for more information on hazard recognition and possible solutions to silica exposure.