Warns of Sillicosis Risks in Construction, Suggests Measures to Reduce Exposure

Exposure to respirable crystalline silica mud during construction activities will cause serious or fatal respiratory disease.
Employers and staff can take many steps to scale back exposures and lower risks.
Exposure to respirable crystalline silica mud throughout construction activities will cause silicosis — a serious and probably fatal respiratory disease — however employers and employees can take practical steps to cut back risks, in keeping with an Alert released by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
The NIOSH Alert, “Request for Help in Preventing Silicosis and Death in Construction Employees,” details the hazards connected to silica exposure among construction employees, provides prevention recommendations, and contains cases reports of construction workers who have died or are full of silicosis.
Silicosis, a scarring and hardening of lung tissue, will result when particles of crystalline silica are inhaled and become embedded within the lung. The disease can be progressively debilitating and fatal. In construction, staff will be easily exposed to silica when using rock containing silica or concrete and masonry merchandise that contain silica sand when preforming such tasks as chipping, hammering, drilling, crushing, or hauling rock; preforming abrasive blasting; and sawing, hammering, drilling, and sweeping concrete or masonry. Even materials containing small amounts of crystalline silica could be hazardous if they’re employed in ways that that turn out high dirt concentrations.
“The human and economic costs of silicosis are unacceptable,” said NIOSH
Director Linda Rosenstock, M.D., M.P.H. “It is very important that government, industry, labor, and the general public health community work together to help employers and employees acknowledge these risks and take action to avoid them.”
The subsequent page contains recommendations for reducing workplace exposure to silica and preventing silicosis. Among some in the development trade there’s an absence of awareness concerning the sources of silica exposure, the character of silicosis, and the causes of the disease. Construction employees, managers, and equipment makers urgently need info concerning the hazards of respiratory respirable crystalline silica. NIOSH requests your help in disseminating this info to those in danger and to those that can impact prevention.
NIOSH recommends the following measures to reduce exposures to respirable crystalline silica within the workplace and to stop silicosis and deaths in construction workers:
Acknowledge when silica dust may be generated and arrange ahead to eliminate or control the dirt at the source. Awareness and coming up with are keys to prevention of silicosis.
Do not use silica sand or alternative substances containing more than 1percent crystalline silica as abrasive blasting materials. Substitute less hazardous materials.
Use engineering controls and containment ways like blast­cleaning machines and cupboards, wet drilling, or wet sawing of silica­containing materials to manage the hazard and defend adjacent workers from exposure.
Routinely maintain dirt management systems to keep them in sensible operating order.
Apply sensible personal hygiene to avoid unnecessary exposure to other worksite contaminants like lead.
Wear disposable or washable protecting garments at the worksite.
Shower (if potential) and change into clean garments before leaving the worksite to forestall contamination of cars, homes, and other work areas.
Conduct air monitoring to live worker exposures and ensure that controls are providing adequate protection for workers.
Use adequate respiratory protection when supply controls cannot keep silica exposures below the NIOSH REL.
Offer periodic medical examinations for all workers who may be exposed to respirable crystalline silica.
Post warning signs to mark the boundaries of work areas contaminated with respirable crystalline silica.
Provide staff with training that features data about health effects, work practices, and protective equipment for respirable crystalline silica.
Report all cases of silicosis to State health departments and OSHA.