Hazard Alert Warns of Silica Exposure during Countertop Manufacture, Installation

On Feb. 18, OSHA and NIOSH issued a joint hazard alert on protecting workers from significant crystalline silica exposure during the manufacture, finishing, and installation of stone countertops. The agencies have identified exposure to silica as a health hazard to workers involved in stone countertop operations, including fabrication shops and in-home work. The hazard alert lists job tasks such as cutting, grinding, chipping, sanding, drilling, and polishing natural and manufactured stone products as activities that can release hazardous levels of crystalline silica dust particles into the air, potentially exposing employees working near the dust-generating operations in addition to those performing the tasks. This alert comes soon after reports of 46 workers in Spain and 25 in Israel who developed silicosis as a result of exposure to crystalline silica in their work manufacturing stone countertops. 

The hazard alert discusses how silica exposure can be mitigated in most countertop operations by monitoring the air to determine worker exposures to silica; controlling dust exposures by using engineering controls and safe wo​rk practices; and providing respiratory protection to workers when needed.
View the hazard alert as a PDF.
For more information on silica hazards, visit the OSHA and NIOSH topic pages.
See this month’s “By the Numbers” department, which features an infographic that includes details on countertop workers’ exposures that were selected from recent OSHA and NIOSH publications.​

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