Mitigating the high consequence hazards in the Mineral Products Industry

Fatal 4 -Workplace Respirable Crystalline Silica 

Unlike the other Fatal 6, which relate primarily to trauma as a result of a single incident, the health and safety issues from workplace respirable crystalline silica (RCS) arise from the long term  exposure to very small particles at concentrations  above the recommended levels.  The risks primarily arise when working in close proximity to the source.   

The long term effect of exposure to silica dust include silicosis, an incurable lung disease that leads to disability and death, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease. Exposure to respirable crystalline silica is also related to the development of auto-immune disorders and cardiovascular impairment. 

Those most likely to be at risk are individuals involved in the mechanical sawing, grinding, polishing of concrete products or stone, particularly if the operation occurs within a confined space. 

The risks from exposure to RCS can be mitigated by the design of manufacturing systems that remove the dust from the atmosphere,  the introduction of effective management controls, wearing appropriate RPE .

Typical measures include;

  • Engineering in dust removal and suppression
  • Carry out scheduled dust monitoring  
  • Establishing and implementing a written exposure control
  • Procedures to restrict access to areas  with high exposures  
  • Designating a competent person to implement plan
  • Use of appropriate RPE and ensuring that individuals have been face fit tested
  • Ensuring operators are trained in its use
  • Ensuring it is easily accessible
  • Use of housekeeping practices that minimise dust 
  • Medical examinations -including chest X-rays and lung function tests
  • Training workers  to raise their awareness of RCS 
  • Training workers to limit their exposure
  • Maintaining  records of exposure, objective data, and medical exams.

Please follow this link to the section of Safequarry that on the Quarries Partnership Team that relates to the management of dust or click on buttons below to view more information.

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Title/Short DescriptionSourceSubjectDate
HSE Publishes new Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) health surveillance guidance

HSE has published new guidance on health surveillance for those exposed to respirable crystalline silica (RCS). Aimed principally at occupational health professionals, it will also be of interest to those with operations where there is exposure to RCS.

HSEOccupational Health07/08/2015
Stop Dust Before it Stops You

Comprising a series of quarry-based activities, this video features an animated quarryman who does everything wrong. The exploits of this hapless character are interspersed with high quality real-life sequences of how it should be done. Produced for the Quarries Partnership Team, the video emphasises how to avoid both the immediate and long-term adverse health effects of uncontrolled dust in the workplace and the consequences for a worker’s life.

HSESilica and dust27/01/2014
NePSi Dust Monitoring Protocol

Are your 'dust monitoring costs' being wasted by employing cheap but unscientific 'scattergun' methods? If so, your company could be vulnerable to prosecution through lack of proof of compliance with the national Occupational Exposure Limit for Respirable Crystalline Silica. Annex 2 of the 2006 EU 'Silica' Social Dialogue Agreement comprises a DUST MONITORING PROTOCOL. At less than 2 pages, this good advice should be acted upon by all companies requiring to measure dust levels in the workplace. Adopting the recommendations of this Protocol ensures the generation of statistically valid evidence of dust monitoring, on which sound management and engineering controls can be based.

MPASilica and dust29/07/2012
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