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OSHA Establishes a New National Emphasis Program on Silica

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today announced a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) to target worksites where employees are at risk for developing silicosis (

"Exposure to silica threatens nearly two million American employees annually," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. "Under this program, OSHA will work diligently to maximize the protection of employees and eliminate workplace exposures to silica-related hazards."

The NEP compliance directive builds on policies and procedures instituted in the 1996 Special Emphasis Program and includes an updated list of industries commonly known to have overexposures to silica; detailed information on potential hazards linked to silica and about current research regarding silica exposure hazards; guidance on calculating the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for dust containing respirable crystalline silica in the construction and maritime industries; and guidance on conducting silica-related inspections.

Two additional elements included in the directive are an evaluation procedure for recording reductions of employee exposures to silica, as well as information on outreach programs, partnerships and alliances with employers to share resources and training to reduce employee exposures.

Silicosis is a disabling, nonreversible and sometimes fatal lung disease caused by breathing in a large amount of crystalline silica. Visit for more information on hazard recognition and possible solutions to silica exposure.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit

U.S. Labor Department releases are accessible on the Internet at The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7828 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit

SOURCE Occupational Safety and Health Administration
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