The construction industry is a big focus of the HSE and they are putting heavy focus on risks from dust, and in this instance we will focus on the construction dust – Silica.
Silica is a natural substance found in most rocks, sand and clay. Some substances contain more Silica than others as sandstone contains a much higher percentage of Silica than granite.
The biggest talked about dust in construction is Asbestos, however Silica dust also poses significant risk if uncontrolled. Silica dust is 100 times smaller than a grain of sand so if these fibres get into your lungs, then high exposure can lead to lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and kidney disease.
Ensure a suitable and sufficient dust assessment has been carried out for all your processes regarding cutting of Silica. Ensure Safety and Training can support you with this, along with any face fit testing requirements.
Silica dust is generated from cutting materials within the construction industry such as; bricks, tiles, concrete, and mortar. It is vital adequate ventilation is in place when cutting these materials and suitable PPE such as at least an FFP3 face masks are worn.
Wet cutting is a great way to damp down the dust and reduce exposure , suitable face fit test must also be carried out, ensuring the mask will be tightly fitted to the individual.
Companies most at risk are:
• Companies who manufacture bricks and tiles
• Kitchen fitters when cutting granite
• Companies who carry out foundry activities
If you’d like any further support or guidance, please do get in touch.
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