The dangers of silica dust have been well documented as far back as the 1700s. Workers in many industries have long been familiar with the health risks caused by this common substance.
But it wasn’t until 1971 – when OSHA was first established – that silica dust exposure limits were set for workers on job sites in the U.S. With the release of new, updated standard in June 2016, OSHA has renewed the focus on the proper steps required to protect workers from the threat of silica dust.

As a leader in dust control, Nilfisk has a full line of well-equipped products to help you safely collect silica dust and keep your crew safe.

Interested in a free cleaning assessment?

OSHA Standard

Understanding OSHA’s new standard on silica dust

In June 2016, OSHA released an updated standard for silica dust exposure, and the enforcement for OSHA’s new silica dust rule for general industry and maritime began on June 23, 2018.

This standard set a new permissible exposure limit (PEL) of only 50 micrograms of silica dust per cubic meter over eight hours. That is a drastic reduction from previous limits, and it has raised many questions about compliance and worker safety.

What industries are affected?

Workers in a variety of industries are potentially exposed to silica dust. Here’s the list of industries OSHA has identified:
  • Asphalt paving products
  • Asphalt roofing materials
  • Hydraulic fracturing
  • Industries with captive foundries
  • Concrete products
  • Cut stone
  • Dental equipment and supplies
  • Dental laboratories
  • Flat glass
  • Iron foundries
  • Jewelry
  • Mineral processing
  • Mineral wool
  • Nonferrous sand casting foundries
  • Non-sand casting foundries
  • Other ferrous sand casting foundries
  • Other glass products
  • Paint and coatings
  • Porcelain enameling
  • Pottery
  • Railroads
  • Ready-mix concrete
  • Refractories
  • Refractory repair
  • Shipyards
  • Structural clay

OSHA-Approved Cleaning Methods

OSHA approved cleaning methods to limit silica dust exposure

The only approved cleaning methods are:

  • Wet cleaning- using water to prevent dust from becoming airborne.
  • High-quality industrial vacuums that meet strict filter requirements.
  • Dry Sweeping- While OSHA recommends utilizing sweepers with HEPA filters, OSHA approves the use of industrial sweepers not equipped with HEPA filters, as long as the employer follows other applicable requirements in the standard.

Compressed air, dry brushing and dry sweeping are prohibited under the new standard. These methods blow the silica dust into the air, making the situation more dangerous.

Nilfisk product portfolio keeps your crew safe

On July 23, OSHA’s new silica dust rule for general industry entered the enforcement phase. This standard impacts companies across many industries, which means it applies in many different environments and applications.

For many of these environments and applications, an industrial vacuum is the best exposure prevention tool you can have in your toolbox. For others, an industrial sweeper or scrubber might be a better option (e.g., for wet method cleaning), or you might want to combine a sweeper/scrubber with a vacuum for a complete floor care solution.

Download the Silica Dust Compliance eBook

Get the Nitty-Gritty on Silica Dust

Foundry Tips & Tricks

Eliminate the Dangers of Silica Dust

Floor Cleaning Equipment for Silica Dust Compliance

Top 5 sweeper/scrubber solutions to keep your facility safe and compliant

Advance SW8000

With a wide sweeping path and the DustGuard feature, the SW8000 ride-on sweeper provides safe and efficient silica dust collection for large areas such as warehouses, factory floors, and exterior environments.

When complete with an optional HEPA filter, the SW8000 meets and exceeds the HEPA standard for 99.97% filtration efficiency. 


Proterra™ Floor Sweeper

Slightly smaller than the SW8000, the Proterra, which also comes with the DustGuard system provides powerful cleaning in warehouses and factories. This sweeper is also highly recommended for foundries and other high-demand silica environments.


Advance SW4000

From warehouse and distribution centers to outdoor parking lots and lumber yards, the SW4000 ensures a professionally swept finish for diverse indoor and outdoor applications.


Advance CS7010

The CS7010 is another great option for companies that want to reduce their ecological footprint and lower their cleaning costs. This sweeper-scrubber is available in hybrid and ePower models.


Advance SC8000

The  C8000 is a high-efficiency, environmentally-friendly solution for scrubbing and wet sweeping. Perfect for industrial manufacturing facilities, warehouses, and distribution centers.


Top 5 Vacuums for Silica Dust Applications


Our AERO series of wet/dry vacuums are compact machines that offer long-lasting performance. The AERO 26-21 with HEPA filtration is ideal for use with handheld grinders for drilling and cutting applications, as well as for light housekeeping.


ATTIX 33 & 44 HEPA

For slightly more demanding clean-up tasks, the ATTIX 33 & 44 series of dust extractors delivers high performance with low maintenance requirements.


VHS 120 and VHS 120 LP

The VHS 120 is a high-performance single-phase, wet/dry industrial vacuum with features that make it ideal for meeting OSHA requirements for silica dust collection.



Our S3 industrial vacuum is a more advanced machine, featuring innovations including an electronic keypad with LED indicators to monitor performance of the main and HEPA filters.



The VHT446IC  also excels in sand collection and other general housekeeping applications in silica dust-containing environments. It comes with an easily cleanable main filter and a HEPA filter for increased safety.


HEPA Filtration

Safely capture dangerous dust at job sites

Using proper filtration throughout our array of floor care solutions is one of the easiest ways to prevent the health hazards associated with lead, silica and other dangerous dust for both.

Traditional shop-style vacuums and sweepers are just not equipped to prevent dust from escaping out the exhaust vent. That means hazardous particles just keep getting recirculated back into the air that your crew breathes.

A couple of components that ensure proper filtration:

  • DOP-Tested HEPA Filters: Nilfisk HEPA exhaust filters capture 99.97% of particles down to 0.3 microns, providing optimum protection from inhaled particles. A DOP-test certificate ensures the filters meet the standard as advertised.
  • Filter Cleaning Options: External filter cleaning options like Nilfisk’s Push&Clean and InfiniClean reduce downtime, extend filter life and prevent exposure to toxic dust and debris.
  • Liberator™ Vibration System: To ensure the filters on Nilfisk’s sweeper solutions remain dust-free for optimal performance, several of our sweeper solutions, feature a timed Liberator™ multi-frequency filter shaker that cleans the filter more effectively to restore airflow for maximum dust control.

DustGuard™: Suppressing Dust at the Source

A key feature of many of our floor solutions is our patented DustGuard system. This technology applies a fine “fog” to trap dust near the brooms, suppressing the dust before it has a chance to become airborne. This unique system ensures dust-free cleaning while also increasing sweeping productivity.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help keep your facility and employees safe from the hazardous of silica dust.



Join us at CASTEXPO

Join us at CASTEXPO

Are you looking for a complete line of industrial cleaning equipment to keep your facility and employees safe and compliant? Then, visit Nilfisk at CASTEXPO booth #2013 in Atlanta, GA April 27-30, 2019.

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