Stay compliant with OSHA's Respirable Crystalline Silica standards -

29 CFR 1926.1153 (Construction) and 29 CFR 1910.1053 (General Industry & Maritime)

Crystalline silica is a common material found in raw form from soil, sand, stone, mortar and concrete, and is useful in the creation of bricks, glass, ceramics, pottery and other products.

On worksites that involve cutting, sawing, drilling and crushing, silica becomes fine airborne dust, which impairs workers' safety. Respirable, or breathable, crystalline silica is 100 times smaller than a grain of sand and can easily enter the lungs of employees. Nearly 2.3 million American workers are exposed to dangerous respirable crystalline silica dust every day.

To protect workers from occupational crystalline silica, OSHA recently created two Respirable Crystalline Silica (Construction and General Industry and Maritime) standards designed to reduced workers’ exposure to silica dust which is to be fully implemented by mid-2021. 

Examinetics offers comprehensive medical exams to keep you compliant with the complicated OSHA standards. Our team has conducted more than 2,000 silica exams on workforces across the U.S. Through extensive experience, our medical team can provide you the best insight into understanding and adhering to the OSHA silica standard. Examinetics is the partner you need to provide guidance when finding specialists in pulmonary disease and occupational medicine.


7 Challenges Implementing the OSHA Silica Standard

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We deliver our services to your site in our functional, comfortable and clean mobile units across the nation.


  • Multiphasic Unit: The large mobile multiphasic units are equipped for a variety of medical screening uses including silica exams. The layout contains two examination rooms, an x-ray, audio booths and an onboard restroom.

  • Mobile Medical Unit: Our mobile medical units are equipped with an examination room, audio booths and x-ray for your medical surveillance and respiratory exam needs. 

Examinetics offer comprehensive medical exams to help you stay compliant with OSHA standard. Our Silica health screenings provide the following services: 

  • Respirator/Silica questionnaire
  • Height, weight and vitals
  • Pulmonary function test
  • X-rays with B reading
  • Physician exam
  • TB screening
  • Respirator and silica medical clearance reporting
  • Employee’s medical data stored in our XM solutions platform
silica physical exam


January/February 2020 issue

"Seven Challenges of Implementing Medical Surveillance under OSHA's New Respirable Silica Standard"

By Dr. Kent Peterson, Chief Medical Officer

Facts About Silica

road construction worker with perforator

Silica, another name for the natural compound silicon dioxide (SiO2), comprises nearly 60% of the earth’s crust. Although it most frequently appears in soil, sand and stone, silica is a dexterous substance and utilized extensively throughout the world. In fact, because of its versatility, silica is considered an essential building block for life as we know it today.


Silica: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good

From health supplements and cellphones to the bricks of our homes, silica is a key ingredient in a vast number of modern products and basic essentials.

Most commonly, the type of silica called crystalline silica is found in ordinary products such as glass, pottery, bricks, mortar and artificial stone. Without silica, houses, roads and transportation wouldn’t exist as we know them.

Commercially, silica is in many health supplements used largely for skin health and joint and bone care. It may also be used in blood pressure and high cholesterol medication.

Additionally, the construction of technological equipment such as computers and phones contain crystalline silica. On a broad scale, silica is essential in the infrastructure of the internet, renewable energy and telecommunications.

The Bad

While silica’s benefits to society are numerous, it can also cause illness. When silica becomes respirable, it becomes dangerous. This occurs primarily on worksites involving cutting, sawing, drilling, or crushing silica. Nearly 2.3 million American workers are exposed to dangerous crystalline silica dust every day.
Breathing in crystalline silica dust is toxic and leads to severe health implications. Some of the issues/illness from crystalline silica dust include:

  • Bronchitis - This involves the inflammation of the bronchial tubes which leads to chest congestion, wheezing and coughed-up mucus.
  • Systemic autoimmune diseases
    • Lupus - This is a disease that affects skin, blood cells, heart, lungs and joints. Lupus has no cure, but symptoms can be managed.
    • Rheumatoid arthritis - This is a disorder which causes severe inflammation to joints as well as damage to skin, eyes, lungs and heart.

The Ugly

The most common illness from silica dust is silicosis. When you inhale small crystalline silica dust, it embeds itself in the lungs, which, after a time, inflame and scar. There are several forms of silicosis. 

  • Chronic silicosis – This is the most common form of silicosis, which slowly occurs within 10 to 30 years of exposure. Symptoms include damaged lungs with scarring, difficulty in breathing and coughing. Extreme cases, called complicated silicosis, lead to heart disease.
  • Accelerated silicosis – This type is similar to chronic, however, occurs at an accelerated rate, within the first five years of high-level exposure.
  • Acute silicosis – After high exposure, symptoms may occur within weeks. Symptoms include cough, weight loss, fever and fatigue. 
    While typically caused by smoking, lung cancer is also a danger of silica dust exposure. Symptoms of lung cancer include a consistent cough, chest pain, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, bone pain, headache and loss in weight.

The Treatment

To protect yourself from respirable silicosis and other ailments, the best practice is to decrease exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Worksites grinding, crushing or drilling rock, mortar or concrete should create a preventative action plan against respirable crystalline silica exposure. NIOSH recommends the following ideas: 

  • Educate yourself and others on the dangers of breathing crystalline silica dust. Awareness is key.
  • On worksites, use water spray systems and appropriate ventilation in confined areas.
  • Wear a respirator on the worksite when working around products/objects containing crystalline silica. Even if you cannot see the dust, you may still be at risk.
  • Wash hands before and after working in dust-covered areas.
  • Keep your clothes and body clean after leaving dusty workplace.
  • Most importantly, NIOSH recommends all employee take advantage of medical and wellness screenings. Health screenings alleviate risk and track longstanding health effects to exposures on the job to keep workers safe and protected. 

Employers should be aware of OSHA’s two respirable crystalline silica standards to protect workers: one for construction and the other for general industry and maritime.


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