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Occupational Health Branch

Silica Safety Resources for Stone Fabricators

Información en español: Fabricantes de Encimeras y Enfermedad Pulmonar

Workers in California are getting silicosis – a deadly disease – doing stone countertop fabrication

In 2018, two California workers died at the ages of 36 and 38 from severe silicosis. Both had jobs at a stone countertop fabrication company working on engineered stone. Since then, the California Department of Public Health has learned of dozens of other workers in California who are suffering from severe or "accelerated" silicosis from their work in this industry. The California Artificial Stone and Silicosis (CASS) Project was created to promote awareness in the industry and among health care providers, so we can identify workers who are at risk and help make their workplaces safer.

NIOSH poster about silicosis in stone fabrication workers

Worker sanding stone countertop in a large fabrication shop

Silica, silicosis, and other health effects
Crystalline silica is found in many materials. Sand, stone, concrete, mortar and artificial stone contain silica. Silica dust particles small enough to breathe in are created when workers cut, saw, grind, drill or crush these materials. Abrasive blasting with sand is another source of silica dust.

When very small particles of silica dust get in the air, they can be breathed into the lungs and cause silicosis. Silicosis is an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death. Silica dust can also cause lung cancer, kidney disease and autoimmune disease.

Poster from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH

​Stone Fabrication Worker Silicosis Alert

Safety Resources to help prevent silica exposures in countertop fabrication

For help measuring silica exposure or complying with  the Cal/OSHA silica standards:

Information for Providers 

Workers with silicosis often present with non-specific respiratory symptoms, such as cough and shortness of breath; they may also be asymptomatic in early stages of disease.

Providers should ask patients about their work and consider silicosis in both asymptomatic and symptomatic countertop fabrication workers. Silicosis can be diagnosed using imaging, such as chest x-ray and chest CT, and pulmonary function tests, such as spirometry and diffusing capacity. Pulmonary and occupational medicine providers should be included in diagnosis and care.​

Providers are asked to report any silicosis cases to CDPH via one of the following methods:​

  • By filling out this form
  • By phone: 800-970-6680
  • By fax: 916-636-6153
  • By email: silicosis@cdph.ca.gov
    • Please ensure that any emails containing protected health information are sent via a secure email system. If you do not have access to a secure email system, please contact us at the above email address and we will provide a secure method of transmission.

Additio​nal Resources for Providers​

Silicosis in Countertop Fabrication Workers: What Providers Need to Know​​​ – one-page overview of silicosis in countertop fabrication workers, including information about diagnosis, medical surveillance, and treatment.​

Global Epidemic Comes to California: Silicosis in Countertop Workers – CDPH health advisory with information for California health care providers and local health departments​

Silicosis: An Update and Guide for Clinicians – clinical review, including occupational background and clinical guidance on managing silicosis

Silica Exposure, Silicosis, and the New Occupational Safety and Health Administration Silica Standard. What Pulmonologists Need to Know – summary of workers at risk of silicosis and occupational health considerations for clinicians

Adverse Effects of Crystalline Silica Ex​posure (PDF 3.5 MB)– American Thoracic Society position statement describing the health effects of respirable crystalline silica exposure

Silicosis and Crystalline Silica Exposure: What Physicians Need to Know – fact sheet about silicosis from the New York State Department of Health

Crystalline Silica: Medical Monitoring – National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) information about silicosis and silica medical examinations

Professional publications

General silica prevention resources, including Construction

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