WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Inhaling crystalline silica particles puts workers at risk for a number of diseases, including lung cancer and kidney disease, U.S. officials said.
Crystalline silica is a natural component of soil, most often found in the form of quartz and can cause silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease if inhaled, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in a release.
In an efforts to combat the effects of exposure to crystalline silica, OSHA has proposed a rule to ensure healthy working conditions for employees and is feasible for employers.
"Exposure to silica can be deadly, and limiting that exposure is essential. Every year, many exposed workers not only lose their ability to work, but also to breathe. This proposal is expected to prevent thousands of deaths from silicosis -- an incurable and progressive disease -- as well as lung cancer, other respiratory diseases, and kidney disease. Workers affected by silica are fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers lost to entirely preventable illnesses. We're looking forward to public comment on the proposal," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.
OSHA said the proposed rule, which was drafted with the input from small business representatives and other interested parties and partner agencies, could save nearly 700 lives and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis per year.
"The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is pleased to join with Dr. Michaels and our partners in labor and industry in OSHA's announcement of the notice of proposed rulemaking on occupational exposure to crystalline silica. NIOSH has a long history of research and recommendations on preventing worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Ensuring the health and safety of all workers is an important part of ensuring a strong economy and future economic growth," said Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.