RESPIRABLE CRYSTALLINE SILICA
Crystalline silica is a natural substance found in stone, rocks, sand and clay, as well as products like bricks, tiles, concrete and some plastic composites. When these materials are worked on, for example by cutting or drilling, the crystalline silica is released as a very fine dust which can be breathed in. This dust is one of the oldest workplace hazards – and it still causes hundreds of thousands of deaths across the world every year.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
The main aim should be to stop silica dust getting into the air in the first place. You may be able to select a process that avoids or cuts down the dust being released, for example, taking into account silica dust control at the design stage of a construction project so there’s less need to cut or drill masonry and concrete
Try to remove or substitute materials containing crystalline silica from the work process – it may be possible to use a different material, for example substituting olivine or another safer material for silica sand in abrasive blasting.
If it’s not possible to protect operatives from silica dust at the design stage or by changing processes or materials, then your first step is to monitor or assess the exposure and identify the jobs and tasks that need better controls.
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