November 2019

Silicosis in Stone Fabrication Workers

Two California workers died in 2018 at the ages of 36 and 38 from severe silicosis. Both had worked at a stone fabrication company, polishing, dry cutting, and grinding slabs of engineered stone for countertops. Forty-three more employees of this company have so far been checked and almost 12% were found to also have silicosis. Silicosis is an incurable occupational lung disease caused by inhaling particles of respirable crystalline silica.

Silicosis is preventable if stone fabrication and installation employers follow the comprehensive Cal/OSHA standard for silica and implement appropriate control measures to reduce dust levels.

OHB has published guidance for countertop fabrication employers and workers to minimize exposure to silica dust when working with engineered stone.

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An illustration shows a worker cutting stone with dust in the air and a worker at a doctor's office being checked.

Employers can take steps to control exposure to silica dust and prevent silicosis.



Silica Safety Resources for Stone Fabricators – OHB website

Hazard Warning for Workers in English and Spanish – fact sheet

Hazard Warning for Employers – fact sheet

Silicosis Outbreak in Engineered Stone Fabrication Workers—18 Cases in 4 States – Occupational Health Alert

Severe Silicosis in Engineered Stone Fabrication Workers — California, Colorado, Texas, and Washington, 2017–2019 – MMWR article


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Do you cut, grind, polish, or work with stone countertops? Learn how to prevent exposure to dust that can cause #silicosis:

The Occupational Health Branch

OHB improves California worker health and safety through prevention activities. We gather information on job hazards, test new approaches to prevent worker injury and illness, and help make changes at the workplace.

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