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HSE inspectors are visiting manufacturing businesses - focus on lung health

From Monday 3 July 2023, inspectors will be checking that duty holders know the risks associated with silica dust and have effective controls in place to keep workers safe and protect their respiratory health.

Inspectors are checking that employers and their workers know the risks and have control measures in place to prevent exposure to RCS which can cause irreversible lung disease if breathed in over time.

Employers should talk to their workers about the risks, and how to avoid them. Make sure they understand how a job should be done safely without creating risks to their health.

WHAT IS SILICA? Silica is a natural substance found in varying amounts in most stones, rocks, sand and clay. These materials may contain large amounts of respirable crystalline silica (RCS), which can be fatal if particles are breathed in over time.

Silica particles are produced during many manufacturing tasks. Brick and tile manufacture and cutting, stone working and foundry work can all produce silica particles in the airborne dust which are too small to be seen. Regularly breathing in this dust over a long time can cause irreversible, life-changing lung diseases.

Even breathing in small amounts of silica dust puts you at risk of developing lung disease.

UNDERSTAND THE DANGERS! Exposure to silica dust can cause serious health problems and may lead to an early death. By breathing it in, your workers could develop the following lung diseases:

  • Silicosis: This disease makes breathing more difficult and increases the risk of lung infections. Silicosis usually follows exposure to RCS over many years, but extremely high exposures can lead rapidly to ill health.

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): This is a group of lung diseases, including bronchitis and emphysema, resulting in severe breathlessness, prolonged coughing and chronic disability.

  • Lung cancer: This is one of the most common and serious types of cancer. Heavy and prolonged exposure to RCS dust can cause lung cancer

Every employer has a duty to manage the health and safety of those they employ or those who may be affected by their undertakings. Ensure risks are assessed, and take action where it has been identified that control measures are needed.

If you require Face Fit Testing, or other Health and Safety Training, feel free to get in contact:

01782 438813

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