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Hawaii Administrators

95-1030 Meheula Parkway #892711
Mililani, HI  96789

(808) 295-7064

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(808) 888-6662

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Crystalline Silica in the Work Place - HIOSH

Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health (HIOSH) has adopted a new health standard on silica dust to eliminate or reduce health hazards from exposure. The new safety regulation took effect on April 14, 2008. Their guidelines have been based on 90% of the federal standards (OSHA).Those affected are ceramic tile setters, roofers, painters, concrete workers and masons.

Silica is found in stone products, brick, concrete products, cut stone, abrasive products, sheet metal work, roofing and painting products as well as masonry. It can also be found in top, body and upholstery repair and paint shops.

Employers are responsible to do an assessment on employees by an industrial health representative to determine if exposure to this dust is over the limit.  The test is a Permissible Exposure Level (PEL) and gauges the air level of dust from the materials such as concrete roof tiles. HIOSH has a representative to administer tests and has been instructed by the national NIOSH to have at least 2% of all inspections every year for silica inspections. In construction, construction work sites rather than construction employees are selected.

If the PEL is exceeded, there is a citation and the employer must establish engineered work practice controls including:

  • Relocation of the employee out of the dust path
  • Insulation
  • Exhaust ventilation
  • Use of wet methods for cutting, chipping, drilling and sawing
  • Use of HEPA vacuums or wet sweeping
  • Prohibiting compressed air for cleaning silica
  • Substitution of non-silica material
  • Using tools with dust collection systems


This program does allow for consideration if the employer shows a good faith effort at complying.  “Subsequent citations may not be appropriate” if the employer:

  • Has implemented all the feasible means of lessening the hazard
  • Has implemented a respiratory protection program
  • Or when engineering controls previously implemented did not reduce the exposure for employees


Employer should have respirators and a safety plan and inspectors will look for the following correct practices including:

  • Keeping exposed surfaces free of silica dust
  • Prohibiting the use of compressed air or leaf blowers to clean around the silica dust
  • Use of wet sweeping
  • Vacuuming with exhaust air filters
  • Break (meal) areas where food is consumed that are free of silica dust
  • Prohibiting blown or shaken contaminated clothing


Respirators can protect employees but must be N95 (thick, carbon mask) NIOSH approved and medical evaluation must be given to all employees that are required to wear one. Medical evaluations are not needed for employees who voluntarily wear filtering face-piece respirators (dust masks).

For further information:

  • Request a free, confidential consultation by the HIOSH Consulting & Training at