If you have silica in your workplace Chemscape can provide you with an adaptable silica exposure control plan (ECP) based on our Chemical Hazard Assessment and Management Program (CHAMP) tool and industrial hygiene services.

What Is Silica?

Crystalline silica, also referred to as quartz, is a common mineral. It’s found in soil, sand, granite, concrete, rock, and many other materials. Cutting, chipping, grinding, and drilling these materials creates a lot of dust, which contains tiny crystalline silica particles. This airborne silica dust can easily be breathed in, causing a major health hazard for exposed workers.

Health Hazards of Silica Exposure

Crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, a disabling disease that can be fatal.

The symptoms of silicosis primarily consist of shortness of breath, severe coughing and weakness, which worsen as the degree and duration of the exposure increase. Acute silicosis can develop within a few weeks after exposure to very high levels of crystalline silica.

Accelerated silicosis develops within five to ten years of exposure to high levels of silica, and chronic silicosis develops after ten years from exposure to relatively low levels of silica.

Where Is Silica Found?

Most types of rock, sand and soil contain large amounts of silica. The most hazardous minerals for silica exposure are those containing crystalline silica such as quartz and cristobalite. Many rock-like manufactured materials also contain silica, including the following:

  • Asphalt
  • Brick
  • Cement
  • Concrete
  • Tile

How Are Workers Exposed to Silica in the Workplace?

The most common sources of exposure to silica in the workplace are generally activities that involve the destruction of silica-containing materials. This process occurs routinely in construction, since concrete and similar materials are largely composed of silicon.

Construction activities that generate particularly large amounts of silica dust include the demolition of concrete structures, road construction and sweeping concrete dust. Other occupations with significant exposure to silicon include coal mining as well as the manufacture of pottery and toothpaste.

Worker Responsibilities to Limit Exposure to Silica

The responsibility of workers to limit their exposure to silica includes using personal protective equipment (PPE) such as respirators in a safe and effective manner. They must also follow the work procedures established by their supervisor and report unsafe working conditions to their supervisor. Taking part in regular safety training relating to silica exposure is essential in order to understand the health concerns relating to silica exposure, so workers, both experienced and new should attend regularly scheduled safety training sessions.

Employer Responsibilities to Limit Exposure to Silica

Employers must provide job-specific exposure control plans (ECPs) that detail the methods and practices for limiting silica exposure. These ECPs must consider the scope and nature of work involving silica-containing materials, the level of respiratory protection required for each activity and the control methods to use in order to minimize silica exposure for all workers who may be exposed.

Trusted Silica Exposure Control Plans by Chemscape

Chemscape can work with your business to develop flexible and adaptable exposure control plans within our CHAMP program. Contact Chemscape Safety Technologies today to learn more about Silica exposure control plans for your business.