Silica is crystalline quartz. It is commonly used in building materials, particularly concrete and masonry products. It is toxic to the skin and is particularly dangerous when inhaled, which can happen when concrete is sawed, chipped, hammered or blasted in building, maintenance or demolition operations. The resulting dust lodges in the lungs and eventually cause silicosis, a deadly and irreversible lung disease. Silica exposure also increases risk for lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), kidney disease and tuberculosis.
Exposure to silica is a significant potential hazards for Laborers. Limiting Laborers’ exposures to the hazards of silica, especially silica dust, is an important goal of the LHSFNA. The risks of even slight exposure are serious and the Fund continues its efforts to get all silica dust out of the air that Laborers breathe.
Since OSHA’s new silica standard went into effect, the Fund’s OSH Division has worked to help LIUNA signatory contractors understand their compliance options and the rule’s mandatory actions and requirements. The Fund offers publications to help LIUNA signatory contractors control exposures through the use of Table 1, comply with sampling requirements when using alternative control methods and follow requirements related to respirator use, medical surveillance and training.