US Department of Labor emphasis program seeks to identify, reduce silica dust hazards in Denver’s cut stone, stone products industry
DENVER – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration developed a new Regional Emphasis Program to identify and reduce hazards in the cut stone and stone products industry. Enforcement will begin on May 17, 2022. In the past 10 years, the cut stone and stone products manufacturing industry has had the highest documented overexposures to respirable crystalline silica in the region.
Focused on getting industry employers to follow required safety standards and alert workers to silica hazards, the emphasis program addresses struck-by and crushing hazards for handling of granite, marble, limestone, slate and other stone slabs.
“This Regional Emphasis Program on silica addresses serious health and safety hazards and enhances our focus on ensuring that industry employers comply with OSHA requirements,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Jennifer Rous in Denver. “Inhaling elevated levels of respirable crystalline silica without proper protection increases the risk of contracting multiple diseases, including silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to disabling or fatal injuries.”
Prior to initiating the REP, OSHA provided outreach assistance to industry employers and employee groups as part of an ongoing effort to help employers and workers identify and eliminate common hazards in this industry.
Crystalline silica is a common mineral found in sand, concrete, natural stone, artificial stone, mortar and other materials, and generates respirable dust during cutting, grinding and polishing processes. In the past decade, OSHA found 30 percent of the documented overexposures in the region occurred in the cut stone and stone products industry.