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OSHA/NIOSH hazard alert : worker exposure to silica during countertop manufacturing, finishing and installation
  • Published Date:
    February 2015
  • Source:
    DHHS publication ; no. (NIOSH) 2014-150
  • Language:
    English
Filetype[PDF-614.96 KB]


Details:
  • Corporate Authors:
    National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. ; United States, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. ;
  • Description:
    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have identified exposure to silica as a health hazard to workers involved in manufacturing, finishing and installing natural and manufactured stone countertop products, both in fabrication shops and during in-home finishing/installation. This hazard can be mitigated with simple and effective dust controls in most countertop operations. Workers involved in manufacturing, finishing, and installing natural and manufactured stone countertops are at risk for significant crystalline silica exposure. Crystalline silica commonly occurs in nature as the mineral quartz, and is found in granite, sandstone, quartzite, various other rocks, and sand. Workers who inhale very small crystalline silica particles are at risk for silicosis - an incurable, progressively disabling and sometimes fatal lung disease. Silicosis results in permanent lung damage. Silica dust particles become trapped in lung tissue, causing inflammation and scarring and reducing the lungs' ability to take in oxygen. Symptoms of silicosis can include shortness of breath, cough and fatigue, and may or may not be obviously attributable to silica. Workers exposed to airborne crystalline silica also are at increased risk for lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease. OSHA and NIOSH investigated U.S. worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica in the stone countertop industry following reports from other countries of stone countertop workers developing silicosis. In at least some cases from Spain and Israel, workers were exposed in shops operating without dust suppression, and without respiratory protection. While the stone industry in the United States has worked to implement dust controls to protect workers against the dangers of silica exposure, studies and OSHA inspections indicate that exposure levels may not be adequately controlled in some stone countertop fabrication worksites in the U.S. This Hazard Alert focuses on countertop industry worker exposures to airborne silica dust, including from quartz in stone. It covers the health effects of breathing silica dust, recommends ways to protect workers, and describes how OSHA and NIOSH can help employers effectively reduce silica dust exposures. Employers must ensure that workers are properly protected from exposure to silica.

    DTSEM 02/2015

    NIOSHTIC No. 20045763

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