Safety and the protection of workers’ health during industrial activities is of paramount concern, and there are certain risks in the construction industry that may not be obvious. One such risk is crystalline silica exposure. Crystalline silica is a mineral that takes three forms: quartz, cristobalite, and tridymite, with quartz being found in many everyday construction materials such as concrete, asphalt, sand, and gravel.
When common construction activities like drilling, boring, excavation, demolition, blasting and grinding take place, small particles of crystalline silica can be produced and can be inhaled, affecting the health of construction workers as the particles accumulate in the lungs. Frequent exposure to high levels of these particles leads to an elevated risk of developing lung diseases such as silicosis and lung cancer.
There are, however, methods that can be used to control the amount of dust and mineral particles produced during construction work. These include the use of wetting agents during drilling and other activities, watering down tracks used by vehicles on construction sites, utilizing tools with dust-extraction systems, and wearing appropriate respiratory protection while carrying out dust-producing construction activities.
See the full article on Crystalline Silica Exposure in the Construction Industry from Liberty Mutual Insurance’s quarterly newsletter.