Estimation of the number of workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica by industry: Analysis of OSHA compliance data (1979–2015)
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Estimation of the number of workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica by industry: Analysis of OSHA compliance data (1979–2015)

Filetype[PDF-771.48 KB]

  • English

  • Details:

    • Alternative Title:
      Am J Ind Med
    • Description:

      Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) can potentially cause silicosis, lung cancer, and renal failure. The current study estimates the percentages of workers potentially overexposed to concentrations of RCS dust and silicosis proportional mortality rates (PMRs) by industry.


      Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance inspection sampling data for RCS collected during 1979 to 2015 were used to estimate percentages of workers exposed. The results were used in combination with US Census Bureau estimates to produce industry specific worker population estimates for 2014. Estimates of the numbers and percentages of workers exposed to RCS concentrations at least 1, 2, 5, and 10 times the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommended exposure limit (REL) were calculated by industry using the 2002 North American Industry Classification System. Silicosis PMRs by industry were estimated using National Center for Health Statistics multiple cause of death data.


      RCS concentrations/workers exposed were highest in the poured concrete foundation and structure contractors; commercial and institutional building construction; and masonry contractors. Approximately 100 000 workers were exposed above the RCS REL, and most (79%) worked in the construction industry. Tile and terrazzo contractors (12%); brick, stone, and related construction merchant wholesalers (10%); masonry contractors (6%) and poured concrete foundation and structure contractors (6%) were the highest percentages of workers potentially overexposed. PMRs were highest for the structural clay product manufacturing and the foundries industries.


      Percentages of workers exposed to RCS varied by industry and in some industries workers are exposed over 10 times the REL. Exposures can be reduced below the REL by implementing the hierarchy of controls.

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