Crystalline silica is found in a number of common construction materials including granite, concrete, brick, mortar, and sand. Numerous studies have shown that exposure to the dust created when working with these materials poses significant health risks — including the potential to develop lung cancer. Here are 4 ways that you can effectively control silica dust.
Whether you're an amateur improving your home or a professional in charge of a construction crew, you need to know how to limit exposure to this potentially deadly dust.
1. Clean Up With A HEPA-filtered Vacuum
Silica dust can remain in the air and on the surface of objects long after you're done working with it. A HEPA filter can remove up to 99.7% of small particles — including silica dust. So, if you know you're going to be working with products that contain crystalline silica invest in a vacuum with a HEPA filter and take regular breaks to clean up the work site.
2. Use Protective Equipment
Whenever you're working with products that contain crystalline silica you need to use proper safety equipment. This should include, at a minimum, a respirator for everyone in close proximity to the products, whether they'll be working on them personally or not. And remember, a respirator must fit tightly to the face in order to create a proper seal. It may be a little uncomfortable at first, but it's worthwhile to avoid a lifetime of lung damage.
3. Keep The Area Well Ventilated
Proper ventilation is important when it comes to controlling silica dust. Opening a window generally isn't enough, and this could also expose those outside to small levels of silica dust. The better option is a portable dust collector, which are available in a number of sizes. They can be costly to rent, but again, the alternative is dealing with a lifetime of medical bills.
4. Contain The Spread Of Dust With An Enclosure
Where a worksite is in a busy pedestrian area, silica dust can spread and put the public at risk. To prevent the dust from spreading, the area can be covered with an enclosure. The Echo Barrier CS Cutting Station is a highly durable barrier enclosure that contains fine debris, while providing high-performance noise attenuation at the same time.
Built from a sturdy aluminium frame mounted on wheels, the enclosure is mobile and strong, while allowing an extraction system to be fed through its rear opening to eliminate dust completely.
5. Don't Eat Or Drink Near Silica Dust
Don't ever bring food or drink near silica dust. This will greatly increase your odds of exposure. You should also be sure to wash your hands well before eating or drinking after working with silica dust.
The bottom line is that the best way to avoid exposure to silica dust is to not use materials that contain crystalline silica at all. When that isn't an option, these 4 safety tips can help you minimize exposure to this health hazard.
Multi-purpose workplace safety
Echo Barrier is an innovative temporary noise control system designed to mitigate noise in dynamic and sensitive work environments. Its unrivalled durability lends it the ability to also help contain silica dust and other worksite debris.