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Occupational Health Branch

Silica Safety Resources for Stone Fabricators

Silicosis Outbreak from Stone Countertop Fabrication Work

Two California workers died in 2018 at the ages of 36 and 38 from severe silicosis. Both had jobs at a stone countertop fabrication company, working on engineered stone which can contain more than 90% silica. Four more employees of this company were checked and found to also have silicosis. Twelve additional stone countertop workers have also been diagnosed with silicosis in Colorado, Texas, and Washington. Read an MMWR article about the outbreak.

Safety Resources

To help prevent silica exposures in countertop fabrication work, the Occupational Health Branch has developed the following educational materials:

If your company needs help measuring silica exposure or complying with the Cal/OSHA silica standards:

  • Contact your workers' compensation insurance company.
  • Call Cal/OSHA Consultation at (800) 963-9424 for a free, confidential visit.
  • Find an industrial hygienist through a searchable list of consultants provided by the American Industrial Hygiene Association.

Additional Resources About Silica Exposure Prevention

OSHA hazard alert (PDF) for manufactured and stone countertop installers
Note: This alert contains useful technical information. However, the Permissible Exposure Level for silica dust has been lowered since this publication was released and there are now additional requirements under the new silica standards.

Silica safety website for controlling silica exposure in construction

NIOSH silica topic page

Health Advisory on Stone Fabrication Hazards (PDF) - OHB advisory on severe lung disease

Silica – Notes from the Field: Silicosis in a Countertop Fabricator – Texas, 2014 – MMWR

Toxic Dusts – Silica (PDF) | Spanish - BuildSafe tailgate training safety cards

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Silica, Silicosis, & 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.
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