OSHA agrees use of non-HEPA industrial sweepers is acceptable under new silica rule

OSHA’s crystalline silica rule did not clearly state which types of industrial sweepers are permitted under its new standard. For the past several months, AFS and its attorney have been engaged in conversations with OSHA staff and their attorneys in order to clarify the types of sweepers that are acceptable under the rule. AFS is pleased to report that in early October, OSHA agreed to allow the use of industrial sweepers not equipped with HEPA filters, as long as the employer follows other applicable requirements in the standard (e.g., the hierarchy of controls to reduce and maintain exposures below the Permissible Exposure Limit [PEL]) and maintains the equipment in accordance with manufacturer recommendations. It is expected that OSHA also will encourage employers who are purchasing new industrial sweepers to purchase sweepers equipped with HEPA filters.

In June, following conversations with AFS members and our attorney, OSHA clarified in its Interim Enforcement Guidance for Crystalline Silica in General Industry (29 CFR 1910.1053), a guidance document prepared for OSHA inspectors, that the use of HEPA-filtered sweepers were acceptable and considered them in the same category as vacuums. Maintenance is key to the successful operation of all types of sweepers.

In the meantime, AFS continues to work on a series of 50 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that have been developed in conjunction with the membership and the agency to provide additional clarification on several key portions of the rulemaking. AFS anticipates that OSHA will conclude work on the FAQs by the end of October.

For additional information or questions, contact Stephanie Salmon in the AFS Washington Office at

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