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Photo Courtesy of DCL (Fabricator), Design by Poulin+Morris
Photo Courtesy of DCL (Fabricator), Design by Poulin+Morris

New OSHA Rules for Silica

Posted: 10/18/2017

Sign, graphics and visual communications companies need to understand new rules from OSHA related to respirable silica. Companies that cut, grind or blast materials like concrete, stone and brick are affected—but so are companies that are working on a sign while construction work occurs nearby. This might mean contractors are sanding drywall, cutting tile or mixing dry cement. The rules took effect September 23.

The new OSHA rules on respirable silica:

establish a stricter standard for how much silica dust workers inhale, and 
affect employers of tradespeople working around such activities, even if those activities are not performed by employees under your control.

What are the key OSHA compliance requirements?

  1. Develop a written silica exposure control plan (this flowchart can help).
  2. Designate someone to implement the plan.
  3. Adjust housekeeping practices to maximize control of silica dust.
  4. Provide medical exams (including lung function tests and chest x-rays) every three years to employees who are exposed to silica to the point of having to wear a respirator for 30 days or more each year.
  5. Train workers on how to limit exposure to silica.
  6. Keep records of workers’ silica exposure and related medical treatment.

What action should you take now?

  1. Find resources at for guidance through the compliance process.
  2. Ensure that jackhammering, cutting and grinding is performed on equipment with proper water-spraying or vacuum collection systems.
  3. Comply with several requirements dealing with documentation and recordkeeping.

ISA strongly recommends that all sign, graphics and visual communications company members develop a written silica exposure control plan, even if your company might only be working close by to other contractors on future job sites. The process of compiling information in the exposure control plan will highlight existing deficiencies in noncompliant equipment, employee training or housekeeping.

For more information, please visit or contact ISA’s Kenny Peskin.