Silica dust is from materials like stone, mortar, concrete, and sand. They contain crystalline silica, which is up to 100 times smaller than sand. It may be tiny and invisible, but it is hazardous. From asthma to cancer, it can result in a long list of health problems. Here, we’ll talk about some of the most effective ways to manage silica dust in the workplace, such as in mining and construction sites.
- Use a Fog Cannon
One of the most effective solutions is the installation of a fog cannon. The latter will create atomized mists to saturate dust straight at its source, preventing it from causing health and environmental hazards, among others. They have high-powered water jets that can cut even through strong winds, making them a great choice for outdoor environments.
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- Wear Personal Protective Equipment
In workplaces where silica dust is a significant hazard, proper protection from head to toe is crucial. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, workers should wear respirators, masks, goggles, and coveralls, among others. They will provide the first line of defense against silica dust. Regardless of the PPE that will be given, see to it that workers will be comfortable, which is also what will make them more productive.
- Improve Ventilation
Proper ventilation is necessary for enclosed spaces where silica dust is a problem. This will help in drawing out dust indoors while introducing cleaner air. Not to mention, it will also make the workspace more comfortable. Through local exhaust ventilation, there is a system that will capture contaminants that are at or very near the source.
- Implement Administrative Controls
Aside from relying on equipment, you can also rely on the behavior of workers to manage silica dust. Some of the best administrative controls include creating a job rotation in such a way that workers will not have long-term exposure. Creating restricted areas for certain processes will also help. More so, it is also necessary to come up with written rules and make sure the strict obedience of the workers.
- Experiment with Alternative Materials and Methods
To manage the health impacts of silica dust, one of the best practices is to use alternative materials. Embrace innovation by using eco-friendly materials that are known for having minimal hazards. To add, use new processes in such a way that the silica dust created will be reduced at a minimum. Using wet cutting methods, for instance, will help eliminate dust. You might also need to invest in new equipment to do this.
From construction workers to miners, workers in different industries are exposed to silica dust daily. In the long run, this will negatively impact their health. Businesses are responsible for executing the necessary measures, such as using a fog cannon, providing personal protective equipment, and experimenting with alternative materials and methods.