Construction Workers Should Have More Protection From Silica Dust

roadconstructionIf you haven’t heard that silica dust can cause silicosis and can also lead to lung cancer, you’ve had your head in the sand for too long.

Sand. Silica dust. Get it? Ok, that was lame…

Anyway, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this continues to be an area of concern. In the most recent issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, a new report finds that more should be done to reduce workers from exposure to silica dust. Researchers call for stronger regulations, increased awareness and prevention, and greater attention to early detection of silicosis and lung cancer using low-dose CT scanning.

The article on the NIH website states:

“The risk of on-the-job exposure to silica is highest in the construction industry. Exposure occurs when workers cut, grind, crush or drill silica-containing materials such as concrete, masonry, tile and rock. About 320,000 U.S. workers are exposed to silica dust in operations such as foundry work, sandblasting and brick, concrete and pottery manufacturing. Silica exposure also occurs from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in oil and gas wells.”

How can exposure be reduced? While banning certain practices or modifying existing equipment might seem like an answer, there are a few items that can be implemented relatively quickly:

1. Monitor for silica dust on employees and on the jobsite

2. Use water sprays and ventilation when working in confined structures, to lower the amount of dust

3. Have properly fitted respirators specifically designed to protect from crystalline silica

How are you protecting your employees from silica dust?

For the full story.

To monitor dust in your facility or job site.

To verify that respirators are fitted correctly.

The American Lung Association also has more about preventing silicosis.

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  1. #1 by Jason a Daskas on December 12, 2013 - 3:28 pm

    My feeling is education the workers themselves is most important. I remember cleaning out basements on new home construction and not even thinking about the dust I was kicking up until my boss told me to get mask because the concrete dust is known to cause cancer. Your on point entirely with silica. It’s has to be one of the worst dust particulates to inhale.

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