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.
MPA Working Group and Other Resources
Please follow this link to a special section of Safequarry that relates to the Quarries Partnership Team that is focussed on the management of dust or click on buttons below to view more information.