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Capitol Health Call
October 9, 2013

Proposed Rule Aims to Protect Workers Exposed to Crystalline Silica

JAMA. 2013;310(14):1437. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280186

A proposed rule announced August 23 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) seeks to reduce worker exposure to crystalline silica, which can cause lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease. If the rule is put in place, OSHA estimates it could save nearly 700 lives a year and prevent 1600 new cases of silicosis annually.

Airborne silica dust exposure occurs in work involving cutting, sawing, drilling, and crushing concrete, brick, block, and other stone products and in work using sand products, such as glass manufacturing, foundries, and sand blasting. The proposed rule includes 2 separate standards—one for general industry and maritime employment and one for construction—and calls for commonsense measures, such as keeping material containing silica wet so dust doesn’t become airborne.