The Health and Safety Authority has warned about the dangers of occupational exposure to Crystalline Silica dust. This can occur in many industries to include quarrying, mining, mineral processing, slate working, stone crashing and dressing, foundry work, brick and construction and demolition work. It can also occur when working with stone, concrete, building restoration, pottery and in ceramic industries. Basically where concrete, stone or sand based materials are used there is a potential for exposure to Crystalline Silica dust.
Inhaling dust from Silica containing materials can lead to the development of Silicosis. Silica dust particles become trapped in lung tissue causing inflammation and scaring. The particles also can reduce the lungs ability to take in oxygen. This condition is called Silicosis which results in permanent lung damage and is a progressive debilitating and sometimes fatal disease.
Highlighting the danger of inhaling Crystalline Silica dust, the Authority in 2017 issued a guidance note about the risks of exposure. They urged the preparation by Employers of appropriate written risk assessment highlighting key hazards and recommended the use of safe systems of work to reduce exposure.
Chronic Silicosis typically occurs after 10 or more years of exposure to respirable Crystalline Silica. However, unfortunately the disease can occur much more quickly after heavy exposures. Silicosis can develop or progress even after workplace exposure took place years previously. The symptoms of Silicosis can be
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
There are also other occupations at risk for Crystalline Silica dust exposure-
- Manufacturing glass products
- Cutting, manufacturing heat-resistant bricks
- Stone counter top fabrication, finishing and installation
For more information on Crystalline Silica Dust from the Health and Safety Authority click this link
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