Starting in October, HSE inspectors will begin targeted inspections focusing on manufacturing business where materials that contain silica are used, to ensure control measures are in place which protect workers’ respiratory health.
This will include brick and tile manufacturers, foundries, stone working sites and manufacturers of kitchen worktops.
Concern: Silica Exposure
Silica is a natural substance found in most stone, rocks, sand, quartz and clay.
Silica particles are produced during many manufacturing tasks involving these materials. Silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer can all be caused by breathing in tiny particles of silica.
Over time, exposure to silica particles can harm a worker’s ability to breathe and cause irreversible, often fatal, lung disease.
Employers are legally required to put suitable arrangements in place to manage health and safety and ensure they comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH).
HSE Inspectors will be looking for evidence that businesses have in place effective measures, such as Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV), water suppression and where appropriate, use of protective equipment such as Respiratory Protective (RPE), to reduce worker exposure. If breaches are discovered, HSE will likely take immediate enforcement action to make sure workers’ health is protected.
If you are self-employed or are employing / managing workers in these industries then review your risk assessments, make sure your COSHH assessments (including material safety data sheets) are up to date and review your safe working practices (SSoW) to ensure that the correct level of protection is being afforded to yourself and your workers / employees.
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