News: Final Rule Issued to Lower Miners’ Silica Exposure Risk

miner industry
  • Published
  • 16 April 2024
  • Category
  • News

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a final rule today to protect miners from health hazards associated with exposure to respirable crystalline silica, also known as silica or quartz dust. The final rule lowers the permissible exposure limit (PEL) to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air for a full-shift exposure, calculated as an eight-hour, time-weighted average. The rule requires mine operators to take immediate corrective actions when the PEL is exceeded.

The final rule:

  • Requires mine operators to use engineering controls to prevent overexposure to silica dust and use dust samplings and environmental evaluations to monitor exposures.
  • Directs metal and non-metal mine operators to establish medical surveillance programs to provide periodic health examinations at no cost to miners. The exams are similar to those available to coal miners under existing standards.
  • Replaces an outdated respiratory protection standard with a new standard reflecting advances in respiratory protection and practices.

Respirable crystalline silica is a carcinogen that can cause fatal diseases. The rule is projected to prevent 1,067 lifetime-avoided deaths and 3,746 lifetime-avoided cases of silica-related illnesses. WorkCare’s Medical Exams & Travel team helps employers comply with medical surveillance requirements. Contact us at to learn more.