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Silica Dust, Exposure, and Containment in Milling Facilities

Worker cutting through concrete giving off silica dust

Worker cutting through concrete giving off silica dust

Many industries come with their occupational hazards. One of the most common is dust exposure. Dust can take many different forms, with some putting individuals at greater health risks.

Silica dust is one such dangerous component present in a wide variety of workplace environments, including those involved in processes such as milling, cutting, drilling, sawing, as well as crushing of construction materials (e.g. concrete, stone, rock, brick, ceramic tiles, etc.).

Regardless of the type of dust, exposure at regular and high levels can cause various health problems. However, silica is one of the many that can cause severe complications. It is for this reason that employers should consider health and safety gear as an integral part of their industrial milling supply.

Silica and the threats it places on workers

Silica, commonly referred to as quartz and one of the most common elements on the planet, naturally occurs in two mineral compound forms: crystalline and non-crystalline. Sand and quartz are the most common types of crystalline silica.

In its natural form, silica does not do any harm. However, once cut, milled, ground, drilled, or otherwise disturbed, it generates very tiny dust particles that the naked eye cannot see. The dust mixes with the air, making it highly respirable.

It is this way that can threaten the health and well-being of people exposed to it. When ingested, even in minimal doses, silica dust can cause lung diseases, the most dangerous of which is cancer.

Containment: The most efficient protection against silica dust exposure

All businesses and organizations that have operations involving the handling of silica-containing materials (concrete, rock, stone, oil, masonry, granite, and even landscaping) need to utilize dust containment and entrapment equipment.

Dust extractors and downdraft booths are some examples of machines that can effectively contain these airborne particulates.

All in all, employers should provide such devices for the use of their workers. This way, they remain in compliance with all the rules and regulations set forth by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, while also ensuring that their workers receive adequate protection from health hazards.