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Silica Dust Risk Assessment

Silica is a natural substance found in varying amounts in most rocks, sand and clay. It is also a major constituent of construction materials such as bricks, tiles, concrete, and mortar. When these materials are cut, drilled, grinded or polished, dust is generated and released into the air where it can be inhaled by the worker.

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Silica Dust Health Effects

Some of this dust is fine enough to get deep into the lungs (Respirable Crystalline Silica) where it can cause:

• Lung Cancer – Life limiting disease
• Silicosis – This is a condition when the lungs become scarred causing serious breathing problems making simple daily task difficult to complete.
• Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – This condition causes serious breathlessness, prolonged coughing and chronic disability. It is a very debilitating condition that can also lead to death.

Silica dust is the biggest risk to construction workers after asbestos! But how are construction workers exposed to this carcinogenic dust?

Due to the severity of these health effects, respirable crystalline silica has been given the notation “Carc” (meaning Carinogenic) within the EH40/2005 workplace exposure limits, meaning that the ALARP principle applies where the risk to exposure MUST be reduced to A Level As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP).

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Silica Dust Monitoring

Silica Dust Monitoring

At Blue Turtle Ltd, we employ experienced Occupational Hygienists who specialise in assessing the current controls in place to check if they are effective, along with providing clear recommendations on what further action should be taken if additional controls are required. Our aim is to ensure that your workforce is protected from work-related ill health and that your business remains or becomes legally compliant with current legislation.

A Workplace Exposure Monitoring Survey for respirable crystalline dust should be carried out if:

  • You carry out any activities that produce crystalline silica dust (e.g. construction type tasks) but have never undertaken occupational exposure monitoring to assess dust exposures to personnel.
  • You are looking to start activities where respirable crystalline dust willb be produced and are looking for advice on what controls should be considered.
  • You have had cases of ill-health relating to respirable crystalline dust exposures.
  • Changes have been made to the process and a survey is required to check that controls are still effective.
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The Process

At Blue Turtle Ltd, we provide a professional and friendly service where a trained Occupational Hygienist will visit your place of work to conduct a survey to assess current workplace exposures, practices, current controls and to provide advice on what additional controls should be implemented. A typical flour dust assessment consists of:

  • Personal air sampling to check exposures against regulatory limits.
  • Prevention – Are there alternative options for carrying out this type of work.
  • Engineering Controls – A review of current controls and an analytical assessment of their effectiveness by carrying out personal air monitoring and/or a test and examination of your Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) system.
  • Procedural/Organisational Controls – A review of maintenance regimes of engineering controls, current working practices and related procedures against industry standards and recognised good practices.
  • PPE/RPE – Review of current provision of Personal Protective Equipment and Respiratory Protective Equipment to ensure that they provide adequate protection against the health hazards.

Every survey is followed by a detailed easy to understand report which clearly identifies the results of any personal exposure monitoring or LEV test results, effectiveness of current control measures, recommendations for further improvements and any gaps in legislative compliance. The report also provides you with a risk ranked actions so that you can focus resources on the higher risk items first. We help businesses of all types manage their workplace health hazards. Our experienced consultants can provide practical advice on how to achieve adequate control through process changes, improvements, or adopting/changing work practices to reduce the risk as low as reasonably practicable.

Whatever your Occupational Hygiene needs are, Blue Turtle Ltd is here to help your business protect your workforce and help you meet your legal obligations.

Give us a call today to discuss your needs or if you prefer, complete the online form with a brief outline of your business needs and/or concerns.

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