Jessica Sherwood

Omni Cubed

Managing Crystalline Silica in the WorkplaceAccording to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), about 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica each year. OSHA has been collecting data over the years that shows a clear correlation between continuous exposure to high amounts of silica and incidents of silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease. The administration has been actively trying to change permissible exposure limits (PELs) for silica since 2013, because the standards haven’t been updated since they were originally created in 1971.

At this point, construction workers are allowed to be exposed to more than double what is considered acceptable for other industries. The new rules reduce the exposure of silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, in an eight-hour period. OSHA began enforcing the crystalline silica rule September 23, 2017, and gave companies one to five years to adjust their policies to fit the new regulations.  

There are some simple precautions you can take to reduce silica exposure for yourself and your employees, such as watering down your work area to prevent silica from becoming airborne. In situations that can’t be wet, use a dust shroud and vacuum to collect the dust before it disperses.

Omni Cubed manufactures three models of Dust Shroud Polisher Adapters that allow you to connect a dust shroud to almost any variable-speed hand polisher, which helps keep your work area clean and protect from dust inhalation.

More information on Silica rules enforcement can be found on OSHA’s website at and the tools to mitigate expose at