Workplaces containing breathable silica hazards pose a huge health risk to its workers. It is important for companies to conduct silica dust training on workers so as to equip them with knowledge about silica dust safety measures.
Some of the health risks that come from exposure to silica dust hazards include silicosis, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis and renal disease.
Overexposure to silica hazards causes the defense system of your lungs to get overwhelmed causing toxic silica particles to fill your lungs. This disease has long latency and might probably reappear a decade after exposure.
The good news is that instances of silicosis have reduced but with the increased mechanization bringing about potential risks, it would be a great idea to know how to protect yourself with some information about silica dust safety measures.
Conduct a survey
Before a renovation or a demolition, be sure to first conduct a hazardous materials survey. If you are running a construction company, seek the opinion of an industry expert who will give you a detailed analytical report.
This procedure is important as it allows you to determine the degree of exposure to silica dust and it will enable you to tackle the problem more effectively.
Draft up a plan for exposure control
It is your responsibility as the owner of the company to protect your workers from anything that might cause them harm. Your company should provide documents that educate the worker on the risks that silica hazards may cause on their health.
Come up with sample respiratory programs that you can use to develop respiratory equipment’s and save money. Also, provide training to your workers on how they can protect themselves and raise awareness on silicone dust safety.
Use Personal Protective Equipment
If you are an employer, you are supposed to provide your workers with personal protective equipment’s that range from safety helmets, footwear, high-visibility clothing, and breathing or hearing protection.
There are a good number of industries that are supposed to give personal protective equipment to its workers due to potential exposure to silica hazards.
These industries include construction, jewelry manufacturing, abrasive blasting, painting and coating, manufacture of pottery products and many other industries.
Exposures often occur during the cutting and drilling process so it is a good idea to give first priority to these sections.
What to consider when using PPE (personal protective equipment)
Before using PPE think about the hazard and try to find better ways of controlling it.
For example, you can use a local ventilation exhaust instead of using gas masks. Work closely with the team supervisor to get holistic solutions to the problem.
When wearing the PPE make sure it fits you appropriately. If you are wearing goggles, confirm that they are giving you clear vision. The gas mask should be breathable and a recovery procedure should be available in case of any emergencies.
Always be aware of the risks involved in working processes that produce silica dust. Take control in order to protect yourself and your workers with the right personal protective types of equipment. You can manage silica hazards by taking training and good practices in your place of work.
10 Precautions to Take to Prevent Silica Exposure
When working with silica, take the following precautions to protect yourself and others. Because Silica dust is a human lung carcinogen, and breathing it in causes the formation of scar tissue on the lungs, reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. Without proper protection, exposure poses a serious threat to workers.
- If you are working with a new material, check the label for silica. If silica is listed, refer to the product’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for more information.
- Make sure you are properly trained in the use and maintenance of your respirator. Contact your supervisor or other designated person if you need assistance or have any questions
- Use all available work practices—water sprays, ventilation systems and blasting cabinets—to control dust exposures.
- Shave facial hair when you are going to working in environments that require a respirator. Even a tight-fitting respirator will not create a good seal between the respirator and your face if you have a beard or mustache.
- Always wear proper personal protective equipment. When respirator protection is required, wear only a N100 NIOSH-certified respirator, or a Type CE abrasive-blast supplied-air respirator for abrasive blasting.
- Be aware of the operations and job tasks creating silica exposures in your workplace environment and know how to protect yourself. Ask your supervisor if you have any questions.
- Be aware of the health hazards related to crystalline silica exposure. Habits like smoking can add to lung damage caused by silica.
- Do not eat, drink, smoke or apply cosmetics in areas where silica dust is present. Wash your hands and face outside of dusty areas before performing any of these activities.Remember, take extra care at all times when working with silica—a little dust now can cause big health problems later
- Do not alter the respirator in any way and always inspect your respirator before use. Alert your supervisor and replace your respirator if you find a crack, puncture, tear, leak or any other unusual condition.
- Wear disposable or washable work clothes and shower if facilities are available. Vacuum the dust from your clothes or change into clean clothing before leaving the work-site.