Safety Focus of the Week – Silica Exposure (Revisited)
Silica dust exposure is a concern where construction materials are cut, ground, drilled, or crushed. The best protection from silica dust exposure is by wetting the product. If not effective, then it is necessary to wear a respirator for further protection. As always, your PPE (in this case the respirator) should be considered a secondary line of defense after the engineering controls (wetting, vacuuming away the dust, etc.).
This is one of our biggest potential exposures to a chronic health hazard, which we take very seriously. Silica Dust can cause silicosis, lung cancer, and other systemic diseases. Silica Dust exposure is from inhalation of microscopic particles. Visible dust is not small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs and therefore is not a potential exposure. However, visible dust typically contains invisible size particles that can cause health effects.
The OSHSA guideline is a useful reference: