Agencies jointly pursuing solutions on silica

By |  February 12, 2020

NIOSH an MSHA are intensifying their focus on respirable crystalline silica through the Respirable Mine Dust Partnership. Photo:

The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) and the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) formed a working group to safeguard the health of mine workers regarding exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

The agencies’ Respirable Mine Dust Partnership will initially focus on respirable crystalline silica, but the intent is for the partnership to address exposures to a broad range of respirable hazards in the future.

According to MSHA, the goals of the partnership are to:

• Provide a forum to review existing literature and scientific studies regarding quartz exposure among miners and provide recommendations addressing shortcomings in the exposure data

• Provide a forum for review, evaluation and discussion of a National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine report, as well as the responses to MSHA’s request for information on respirable silica. This includes identifying existing engineering controls and best practices used by mine operators, equipment manufacturers and personal protective equipment manufacturers.

• Provide a forum to identify easily achievable recommendations that will have near-term benefits to reduce miner exposure to respirable crystalline silica and other respirable hazards upon implementation; and

• Provide a forum for input on research gaps and technical direction with respect to respirable crystalline silica and other respirable hazards.

The partnership will aim to use the most up-to-date scientific methods, procedures and technological and economic feasibility information in the accomplishment of the work. It will also work closely, openly and in a spirit of cooperation with all organizations. All information, including the minutes of meetings, will be posted on NIOSH’s and MSHA’s websites.

The partnership was slated to convene for its first meeting Feb. 5. Metal/nonmetal operators, trade associations and equipment manufacturers were expected to be among those invited to participate.

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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