Control silica dust risk

18 April 2019

With silicosis a UK government-recognised industrial disease, it is vital the risk from silica dust is taken seriously and exposure adequately controlled in the workplace.

It is imperative that silica dust is taken from all workplaces using the correct equipment. H class vacuum cleaners are the most suitable equipment in most cases for the absorption of large volumes of safe as well as hazardous/highly carcinogenic substances, such as asbestos dust, lead, coal, nickel, cobalt, copper and cadmium and mould. Silica dust only requires a small amount to be airborne to create a health hazard. The harmful particles are not visible to the human eye, meaning that many workers are not aware they have even breathed this substance in. When this dust is inhaled, it can seriously damage the lungs, kidneys and airways, causing life-changing diseases including: lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma – in some cases it can even kill.

Results show when working in a dusty environment without protection typically the body will breathe out 95% of the dust, but 5% of fine dust will remain in the lungs, which is very harmful. Silica dust then remains in the lungs which causes inflammation and leads to an increased chance of suffering from lung damage and scarring; it can also enter into the circulatory system and affect other organs such as the brain, heart and bones – the diagnosis often being silicosis.

Silicosis is an irreversible, progressive, disabling, and often fatal lung disease as the result of heavy and prolonged exposure to respirable size crystalline silica dust - a common mineral found in many materials on construction sites, including concrete, rock, sand and granite.

Employers have a responsibility to not allow employees lungs to become the filter. Clean Sweep UK recommends that a H Class ATEX Zone 22 industrial vacuum cleaner is always used to clean affected areas. These Industrial vacuums can be hired for short and long term contracts, depending on the customer’s needs. Clean Sweep UK offer free site visits, advice, full training and a next day delivery anywhere in the UK.