Aussie tradies at risk: Do not ignore the dangers of Silica dust
Disclaimer: This information is not endorsed by Work Health and Safety governing bodies and shouldn't be interpreted as any form of legal or health advice. All regulatory and compliance enquiries must go to the relevant Worksafe organisation responsible for each region of Australia. All health-based enquiries should be discussed with and handled by a Medical Professional. Information provided in this article is accurate as of January 2020.
Silicosis. It's one of the most deadly illnesses you can get and it comes from breathing in the dust from a range of very common building materials.
Thousands of tradies across the country are at high risk of getting Silicosis. Does this include you? To find out, you need to know how you get Silicosis and where Silica dust is found.
How do you get Silicosis?
Silicosis can be caused when you breathe in microscopic crystals of Silica dust over a long period of time, especially without protection. The smaller the particles you breathe in, the more damage is done. Silicosis occurs when these tiny Silica dust particles settle in the walls of the lungs and cause scarring and internal inflammation, ultimately preventing your breathing.
This video explains it well.
Where is Silica dust found?
Silica dust is found in many common building and construction materials such as natural stone, engineered stone, concrete, Hebel, cement, brick or tiles. The dangerous Silica dust gets into your lungs when it’s thrown into the air from cutting or grinding. But it’s not just the visible dust you need to worry about – it’s the invisible dust that causes the most severe lung damage.
How can you protect yourself and your team from Silica dust?
The good news is that there’s plenty you can do to keep the whole team safe and healthy. In fact, you’re ahead of the pack because you’re trying to better understand the risks and take them seriously.
Here’s what you can do in the workplace on a day-to-day basis:
- Try to minimise excessively dusty cutting or grinding on-site and instead seek options where the work is done in a controlled environment.
- Control dust at the source by ensuring you and your team are using the right equipment. Use quality tools that minimise dust created in the first place, and use a dust extractor to catch all the dust that is created.
- Always wear the correct PPE and keep your work areas well-ventilated. It’s crucial that you restrict dust from transferring into the public atmosphere; you never know who you may be putting at risk.
It’s up to you!
By reading articles like this and taking the time to recognise and understand the dangers of Silica dust, you’ll be able to keep yourself and your team safe. Each and every worker is accountable when it comes to dust safety, so you must take the risks seriously and encourage others to do so as well. Of course, if you are concerned about your health or that of your team, arrange to see a medical health professional for assessment and advice.
It’s all about working together to keep hazardous dust at bay.
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