Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is an extremely fine particle produced by cutting, drilling, or otherwise breaking common materials. It is a serious hazard in the workplace, and inhalation can cause silicosis and lung cancer. There is no safe level of silica dust that a worker can inhale, meaning that even companies that are legally compliant may still be exposing their employees to dangerous levels of silica.
Every year in the EU, 7,000 cases of lung cancer can be traced back to silica dust exposure.
Just 16 % of British construction professionals believe their colleagues understand the risks of inhaling silica dust.
OSHA estimates that 12,173 iron foundry workers in the US are exposed to RCS over the new permissible exposure limit.
Britain’s HSE estimates that silica dust inhalation killed more than 500 construction workers in 2005.
Breathing in silica dust can cause lung cancer, silicosis, and COPD.
It takes under a year of working with silica to develop silicosis. There is no cure for this deadly disease.
As a result of their tiny size – the same reason they can do so much damage to your employees‘ lungs – silica particles remain airborne for an incredibly long time. Even the air currents generated by someone walking by is enough to disturb silica dust, and once it’s in the air, it can take up to four hours to settle again. During this time, it poses a considerable health risk, as even a small amount of respirable silica dust can be hazardous.
You thought wrong. This graph is showing a range of particle sizes, demonstrating that smaller particles – such as silica dust – remain airborne for longer.
Specific silica dust exposure standards differ from country to country. Each country has its limits of how much respirable crystalline silica in the air is ʹsafeʹ for an 8-hour shift.
One consistent factor around the world is that regulators are continuing to reduce limits, and regulatory fines can do significant damage to a business.
OSHA silica exposure fees in the US can be up to $7,000 per day!
A UK landscaping contractor was recently fined £20,000 by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) after failing to meet HSE silica safety requirements.
It can be incredibly costly for businesses to remain compliant as they increase cleaning efforts and install expensive extraction systems. This is particularly true as regulators lower silica dust exposure limits, putting pressure on employers to invest more in these systems. In the USA, for example, it is expected that compliance could cost employers up to $1 billion a year. However, these systems often aren’t even effective enough. Pick a solution that actually works by choosing Zehnder, the air cleaning experts.