Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Inspectors have begun a targeted inspection of businesses that use silica. Silica is a natural substance found in most stone, rocks, sand, quartz and clay.
Inspections start early October 2022. Checks will be made whether employers and workers know the risks involved when dealing with silica and have adequate control measures in place to protect workers respiratory health.
Prolonged exposure to airborne particles of respirable crystalline silica (RCS) in industries such as brick and tile manufacturers, foundries, and stone working sites can lead to life changing respiratory conditions such as silicosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD.
What employers need to do?
Undertake a hazardous substance risk assessment to determine suitable control measures such as local exhaust ventilation LEV, consider water suppression at source, use of respiratory protective equipment RPE. Ensure a suitable occupational health surveillance progmme is in place. Air sampling and personal monitoring should be carried out to check that exposure limits are not exceeded and confirm that control measures are effective.
If any health and safety breaches are discovered the HSE will take enforcement action to make sure workers’ health is protected.
Author: Rachel Herd, Health & Safety Advisor