Exposure to (respirable crystalline) silica dust is one of if not the most important health risk encountered on a construction site. Silica is almost always found in the DNA of most rocks, sands, clays, etc. and in the construction industry specifically we’ll find it in concrete, aggregates, mortars and a whole host of other lesser used materials.
Respirable particles of crystalline silica are invisible to the naked eye and are often produced via cutting, blasting or drilling into granite (as well as sandstone, slate brick or concrete).
Once inhaled the particles can seriously damage your lungs and over time will lead to silicosis (a debilitating lung disease) and lung cancer among other life altering illnesses and like asbestos it is only after long periods of exposure that symptoms become evident.
Currently, there aren’t any ‘major’ studies investigating the effects of silica exposure in the UK. However, there are several studies carried out by other nations and we can find supporting statistics via HSE.
Here are the facts:
- Over 500 construction workers die every year as a direct result of Silica exposure
- In 2005 silica deaths attributed to nearly 800 deaths across all industries, making it the 2nd biggest workplace killer after asbestos.
- The UK WEL for respirable crystalline silica is 0.1mg/m3, however, this isn’t considered a safe exposure as your risk of silicosis increases after 0.1mg/m3 after only 15 years exposure.
- 30 years exposure at 0.1 mg/m3 can lead to 25% chance increase of silicosis.
- No studies to date have produced accurate data to measure the exposure limits of the average construction worker.
- Comparable studies show that the average Dutch construction worker can be exposed to 1.36mg/m3
- Approximately 69% of concrete grinders in the USA have been overexposed to respirable crystalline silica dust
The evidence is overwhelming and it would be fair to say that silica exposure in any form contributes directly towards preventable deaths in the UK and across the rest of the world.
Fortunately, Tidi-Cable can help you reduce the amount of Silica-related incidents on site with our fantastic Grade 1 (unfinished surfaces)and Grade 2 (finished surfaces) tidi-patches, designed to reduce drilling due to our heavy-duty adhesive backing.
If you’d like to know more about how Tidi-Cable can help with silica relating incidents then please do contact us on 01634 790 943 / 01634 790 957 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.