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No time To Lose

This February, Aarsleff Ground Engineering & Centrum Pile are supporting IOSH’s No Time to Lose’ campaign, by raising awareness across the company.

The campaign is working to:

  1. Raise awareness of a significant health issue facing workers in the UK and internationally
  2. Suggest some solutions on a UK scale to tackle the problem – a national model that can be transposed internationally
  3. Offer free practical, original materials to businesses to help them deliver effective prevention programmes.

This week, we’re providing information on…

Silica Dust

Crystalline silica is a natural substance found in stone, rocks, sand and clay, as well as products like bricks, tiles, concrete and some plastic composites. When these materials are worked on, for example by cutting or drilling, the crystalline silica is released as a very fine dust which can be breathed in.

This dust is one of the oldest workplace hazards – and it still causes hundreds of thousands of deaths across the world every year. Long-term exposure to silica dust – caused by tasks like cutting, drilling, grinding or polishing materials containing silica, or even just sweeping up after a task – can cause silicosis (an irreversible chronic respiratory illness), lung cancer and a number of other serious diseases, including a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease such as emphysema.  Silica dust is one of the most significant causes of work-related disease around the world.

What are the tell-tale signs of lung cancer / silicosis:
  • a persistent cough
  • a cough you have had for a while that gets worse
  • breathlessness
  • coughing up phlegm with traces of blood
  • an ache or pain in the chest or shoulder
  • loss of appetite or unexpected weight loss
  • tiredness
Where does it come from?

The common scenarios where people may be exposed to silica dust include:
  • Breaking, crushing, grinding or milling silica-containing material such as concrete, aggregate or mortar
  • Drilling, cutting, chiselling or sanding silica-containing material
  • Dealing with cement
  • Moving earth, e.g. excavating, mining, quarrying or tunnelling blasting or sandblasting
  • Handling, mixing or shovelling dry materials that include silica
  • Using silica, sand or silica-containing products in the manufacturing process of glass and other non-metallic mineral products
  • Using sand as a moulding medium in foundries
  • Using silica flour (a finely ground form of crystalline silica)
  • Dry sweeping up after a task where silica dust has been created
How can we control the amount of silica dust?
  • Wear the right gear for the job – make sure to wear the right respiratory gear suited for the task you are doing
  • Try assessing if you could use a different material, or change working practices to produce less dust
  • Try working in well ventilated spaces and outdoors when you can
  • Use water suppression whilst cutting

To find out more visit