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5 ways to reduce silica dust exposure and prevent silicosis

reduce silica dust exposure

Silicosis has become a growing health and safety concern for the industrial sector; however, knowing how to prevent silica dust exposure is a more complicated issue. To make understanding silicosis easier, we’ve done some research into silica dust and created this guide on how you can reduce exposure in your workplace.

What is Silica?

Silica is a naturally occurring substance that can be found in varying amounts in sand, clay, gravel and some rocks and stones. Also known as ‘quartz’, silica is commonly found on construction sites, due to its prevalence in building materials such as concrete, tiles, mortar and bricks.

How to reduce the risk of Silicosis and silica dust exposure

Carrying out common construction tasks such as grinding, drilling and cutting generates dust, which can easily be inhaled if the dust is fine enough. Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) – also known as silica dust – can get deep into the lungs when breathed in, which, over time, can lead to lung cancer or other serious respiratory diseases.

  1. Wear suitable workwear in environments with risk of silica exposure One of the most effective ways of minimising silica dust exposure is to provide your workers with personal protective equipment (PPE), such as respirators which cover the nose and mouth.

  2. Keep equipment clean in workplaces with high levels of silica Contamination can be a major cause of concern in these environments. Workwear can be contaminated by silica dust – which, in some cases, is so fine that it can barely be seen – so it should always be washed separately.

  3. Use engineered controls for dust suppression Using local exhaust ventilation (LEV), which removes dust at its point of origin so that it doesn’t enter the air can be a very effective form of dust suppression, as can dust containment systems which continuously remove and filter the contaminated air.

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