OSHA publishes crystalline silica Frequently Asked Questions for general industry

On Jan. 22, 2019, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) concerning the agency’s final rule regulating occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica in general industry.

For months, the American Foundry Society and National Association of Manufacturers have been working directly with the agency to craft these FAQs to provide metalcasters with additional guidance on key areas of the silica standard’s requirements. OSHA began enforcing its respirable crystalline silica rule for general industry on June 23, 2018. The document is organized by topic. A short introductory paragraph is included for each group of questions and answers to provide background information about the underlying regulatory requirements.

“Through the association’s Safety Committee, members, and staff, AFS was an important contributor to the formulation of the FAQs,” said AFS CEO Doug Kurkul.  “AFS will continue to look for ways to work with OSHA to improve the workability of this significant rule on the foundry industry.”

AFS’ safety attorney, Brad Hammock, has developed a summary of the key interpretations from the FAQs, available here. Many thanks to a number of AFS members and the AFS Safety Committee for their assistance on the FAQs.

On Jan. 10, AFS hosted a Members Only Webinar, “OSHA's Crystalline Silica Rule - 6 Months After Implementation (FAQs),” where Hammock provided an in-depth overview of the silica FAQs. Click here to visit the Members Only Webinar Archive for a link to the recorded presentation and a copy of the PowerPoint.

In addition, AFS research funds were used to study industrial sweepers, which played a role in informing the formulation of which types of industrial sweepers are permitted under the standard and highlighted in the FAQs. 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.

If you have any questions regarding the FAQs, contact Stephanie Salmon in the AFS Washington Office at

The American Foundry Society is a dynamic technical and advocacy organization that serves and represents the $33 billion metalcasting industry. AFS is the only association serving the entire industry, including all metals and processes, with a three-part focus on advocacy, education, and innovation. AFS also publishes Modern Casting and Metal Casting Design & Purchasing magazines and presents Metalcasting Congress and CastExpo, the largest metalcasting trade events in North America. Founded in 1896, the organization is based in Schaumburg, Illinois, with an advocacy office in Washington, D.C. More information is available at