top of page


A brief history, who can become affected, & how we can help

A Brief History

Silicosis has been well known as an Occupational disease for hundreds of years. In the early 1900’s granite workers in Vermont recognized the connection between the dusts they were exposed to and the fatal diseases they were dying of. By the 1930’s they successfully bargained for ventilation equipment in their work areas. 

One of the worst disasters in US history involved silicosis. In the early 1930’s , hundreds of workers died from silicosis while building the Hawks Nest Tunnel near the town of Gauley Bridge, West Virginia. As a result of the exposure to silica dust during tunneling, hundreds of workers acquired silicosis and died. A subsequent Congressional hearing about cited 476 deaths out of the 3000 workers.

In 1970 OSHA was formed and began to provide regulations for the health and welfare of workers.  On March 25, 2016 OSHA published a construction industry standard for Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) (29CFR 1926.1153).

Who is affected by this Standard?

OSHA estimates that about 2 million workers construction are being exposed to silica on their jobsites. More than 840,000 of these construction workers are exposed to silica levels that exceed OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit.

Diseases from this exposure can cause lung cancer, silicosis as well as other respiratory diseases and kidney disease. It occurs during common construction tasks such as masonry saws, grinders, jackhammers, drills, and handheld powered chipping tools, operation of vehicle mounted drilling rigs, milling operating crushing machines and using heavy equipment for demolition.

What Medical Exam does the standard require?


  • The OSHA Silica Standard requires a physical examination that concentrates on the respiratory system, cardiac, pertinent organ systems and extremity examination.

  • The physical exam must be performed at baseline and every three years thereafter.  


  • Baseline testing for TB on initial examination and yearly thereafter depending on history of exposure.


  • The required pulmonary function testis spirometry and must include forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and FEV1/FEV ratio.

  • Pulmonary Function Testing must be performed on the initial exam and every three years thereafter. 

  • Testing must be performed by a Spirometry Technician with a current Certificate from a National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) approved spirometry course. 


  • The standard requires a single poster anterior (PA) radiographic film.

  • The chest x-ray must be interpreted by a NIOSH certified B Reader.

  • Chest x-ray must be performed at baseline and every three years thereafter.



  • Provide the employee with a summary of results within 30 days.

  • Provide recommendations for further evaluation if required.

  • Any recommended limitations on the employee’s use of respirators.

  • Any recommended limitations on the employees’ exposure to RCS

Island Occupational Medical Resources, PC

will provide:

  1. Silica examination can be performed on site or at our Facility. 

  2. Our Spirometry technicians are NIOSH Certified as required by OSHA.

  3. Chest X-rays will be performed on premises of the examination.

  4. Our Radiologists are B Reader Certified as required by OSHA.

  5. All paperwork and forms are fulfilled in compliance with OSHA.

Contact IOMR for any

& all information!

Additional Silica Resources

Here you will find articles available for PDF download about the  latest info on Silica and Silicosis

Simply Click to Download

CDC - "Preventing Silicosis"

OSHA - "Workers’ Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica: Final Rule Overview

bottom of page