Silicosis Risks And Prevention


Silicosis Is Preventable – Know Your Risks!

Construction workers are in one of the heaviest exposure areas to crystalline silica dust. Exposure during construction activities can cause serious or fatal respiratory disease (Lung disease and cancer are leading causes of death and higher ratios exist in this industry than any other). Most commonly, poor dust control in construction zones is cited as a main cause for this preventable lung disease. After 30 years in the movie and construction industry I can honestly tell you this is no joke and should be taken seriously. Young People are getting sick and are dying much too soon because of it.

Quartz, or, Crystalline silica, is the most common mineral silica form. Other silica minerals also include cristobalite and tridymite.
Construction workers most at risk are those workers who perform these duties:

  • Chipping, hammering, and drilling of rock
  • Crushing, loading, hauling, and dumping of rock
  • Abrasive blasting using silica sand as the abrasive
  • Abrasive blasting of concrete (regardless of abrasive used)
  • Sawing, hammering, drilling, grinding, and chipping of concrete or masonry
  • Demolition of concrete and masonry structures
  • Dry sweeping or pressurized air blowing of concrete, rock, or sand dust

Key to the prevention of Silicosis is to keep as much dust out of the air as possible. I know, that’s just not as easy as it sounds but it can often mean using a water hose to water down area dust before it has a chance to become airborne.

When you buy equipment look for:

    • Dust controls. Keep this mechanism clean and working properly and don’t use that tool if the dust control is not working or malfunctioning.
    • Drills that have a positive-pressure cab with air conditioning and filtered air supply to isolate the driller from the dust.
    • Saws that provide water to the blade.
    • Vacuums with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.
    • Wet sweeping instead of dry sweeping – Use water hose to dampen any dusty area instead of blowing dust off with a hose.
    • Containment methods like blast-cleaning machines and cabinets.
    • Abrasives containing less than 1% crystalline silica to use during abrasive blasting.

Properly fitted respirators are encouraged when needed, but preferred is awareness first and second is the use of dust prevention tools and machines.

Shop Concrete Drilling And Anchoring Solutions Tool Name / Tool Attachment or Accessory Filter & Dust Extractor Respiration OSHA Silica
Hammer Drill   NONE  YES  √
SDS Plus Hammers Anchoring Applications
Universal Dust Extraction
 YES  √
SDS Max And Spline Hammers  Anchoring Applications
Universal Dust Extraction
 YES  √