Silica dust is produced by cutting, grinding, drilling, or disturbing materials such as rocks, sand, and, clay, which naturally contain crystalline silica particles. These particles can lead to dust explosions and lung cancer when not controlled. Implementing the right policies and dust extractors to control silica dust is crucial. Here’s how to do it.
When working with crystalline silica dust, choosing the right control measure and dust extractor is essential. Luckily, there are multiple measures to choose from. While no one measure can be used as a standalone, you can employ different measures to improve and achieve the end goal and remove dust from the air.
Some of these measures include:
As the term suggests, elimination involves completely eradicating silica dust and related hazards from the work site. However, in most instances, total elimination is not possible. More so if the primary dust being produced from an area is silica. However, you can reduce the dust emitted by adopting better processes. These include wet processes that produce less dust and trap dust from the source. Unlike dry methods, wet processes make it easier to contain the dust and prevent it from being emitted into the environment.
Substitution entails replacing silica dust-emitting products and chemicals with less hazardous ones. However, substitution will largely depend on the products you use and the tasks you carry out. Just like elimination, substitution may not be applicable in all cases. More so if silica is needed to make the end product. Nevertheless, substitution can effectively reduce the amount of silica dust produced in an area by using products and chemicals with less silica content. This includes using liquid/paste forms of silica instead of powdered forms.
Isolation involves keeping your employees away from silica dust and secluding those directly involved in using silica. You can make isolation effective by using barriers and setting up silica workplaces away from other areas. By enclosing these areas, you can prevent silica dust from being emitted into the air. You can also use a dust extractor to collect dust from these areas. Other control measures include ventilation and engineering controls.
Test the safety measures and equipment
Once all the above is done, ensure you test them. This will involves employing the measures you have chosen, such as substitution and use of PPE. You can countercheck how they will work or fit into the daily operations by testing. This helps you to verify what is working and what isn’t. You can also take points on what needs to be changed and improved to make the application more effective.
Write it down
This is the last step. Once you have certified that the equipment and measures work and made necessary changes, you can document them. This will help you develop written rules and policies to implement and build a workplace culture.
With the right policies and extractors in place, you can ensure you and your employees are protected from the adverse effects of silica dust exposure. There are different measures to choose from; the trick is to find what works for your workplace and implement it.