Crystalline silica is found in materials such as sand, concrete, masonry, rock, granite, and many building and landscaping materials. Breathing dust generated from working with these materials can scar the lungs. Once silicosis develops, the damage is permanent. The scarring of the lung tissue cannot be reversed.
Silicosis still occurs in the New Jersey mining industry. This Web page offers resources that employers, employees, and health care professionals can download to learn more about silicosis and how to prevent the disease in New Jersey workers.
For over 30 years, the New Jersey Department of Health’s (NJDOH) Silicosis Surveillance Project has tracked cases of the disabling lung disease silicosis. This fact sheet summarizes the results of surveillance activities in the NJ mining industry, including the occupations and industry subsectors associated with cases of silicosis.
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Regulations/Programs
MSHA Jurisdiction in the Mining Industry
Both MSHA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards can apply at the same mine depending on the kind of extraction and processing operations involved. An interagency agreement sets forth the general principles and specific procedures determining the jurisdiction of the two statutes involved.
MSHA Regulation of Silica Dust
There is no substance-specific MSHA standard regulating silica exposure. MSHA enforces its own exposure limits distinct from OSHA, has rules requiring controls for drills and requires air sampling in certain situations.
MSHA’s Program Policy Manual – Volume IV discusses how MSHA regulations are implemented in Metal and Nonmetal Mines (types of mines found in NJ).
MSHA also has a guidance available about their requirements for exposure monitoring in metal/nonmetal mines.
Despite there not being a single silica standard, employees can still file MSHA complaints if they believe that conditions leading to overexposures to crystalline silica dust exist at their workplace and their employer has not taken steps to reduce it. The MSHA website provides guidance on submitting complaints about hazardous conditions in mines.
MSHA’s Small Mine Office (SMO) works closely, on-site, with mine operators having five or fewer employees to develop and implement health and safety programs tailored to identify and eliminate hazards at their operations. The wide variety of health and safety services offered include a worksite analysis of safety and health conditions, assistance in developing a written health and safety program, and safety and health toolbox talks for training employees.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regulations/Programs
OSHA Jurisdiction in the Mining Industry
Both OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) standards can apply at the same mine depending on the kind of extraction and processing operations involved. An interagency agreement sets forth the general principle and specific procedures determining the jurisdiction of the two statutes involved.
OSHA Regulation of Silica Dust
There is no substance-specific OSHA standard regulating silica exposure, however several standards have provisions that set airborne exposure limits and help protect workers. The links to these standards can be found on the OSHA Crystalline Silica web page.
OSHA has an ongoing National Emphasis Program addressing crystalline silica (OSHA Directive CPL 03-00-007, 1/24/2008). It includes an updated list of industries commonly known to have overexposures to silica; detailed information on potential hazards linked to silica and about current research regarding silica exposure hazards; guidance on calculating the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for dust containing respirable crystalline silica in the construction and maritime industries; and guidance on conducting silica-related inspections.
Despite there not being a silica standard, employees can still file OSHA complaints if they believe that conditions leading to overexposures to crystalline silica dust exist at their workplace and their employer has not taken steps to reduce it.
For employers, OSHA offers a free and confidential on-site Consultation Program to small and medium-sized businesses in states all across the country with priority given to high-hazard worksites.
NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJ DOLWD) Regulations/Programs
The New Jersey Mine Safety Act (N.J.S.A. 34:6-98.1 et seq.) along with the Pits and Quarries Regulations (N.J.A.C. 12:185) provides for the safety and health of workers and for the construction, operation, and maintenance of pits and quarries in the interest of the life, health and safety of employees, as well as protection of property. The Act also provides for the development of safety educational programs. The Act mandates that all mines be registered annually and that each mine is to be inspected bi-annually. Records are kept and periodic inspections are also conducted on working and abandoned mines throughout the State to ensure public and worker safety. This information is also made available to local planning boards to assist them in the safe development of their communities.
NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Jurisdiction in the Mining Industry - Safety Compliance Unit
The Safety Compliance Unit at NJDOLWD oversees Mines, Explosives, Crane Operators, Fireworks, Retail Gasoline Dispensing and Model Rocketry. The Unit regulates and inspects all mining activities and the use of explosives for any purpose; issues licenses to crane operators; enforces the Retail Gasoline Dispensing Act protecting the public from hazards which could arise from improper use of gasoline pumping equipment; and regulates the manufacture, storage, off-road transportation, registration, sale and public display of fireworks.
Occupational Safety and Health Training Unit
The Mine Safety Section at NJDOLWD receives a grant from MSHA to administer Part 46 training to employees of active mines in the State. The NJ DOLWD has developed training materials, modules, and methods utilizing health and safety information compiled through contacts with various sources in the health and safety industries to provide Refresher, New Miner, MSHA Instructor, and haulage/contractor training.