Silicosis is potentially a serious form of occupational lung disease with no cure that has traditionally affected coal mine and quarry workers, but more recently those who work in the engineered stone bench top industry.
Respirable Crystalline Silica RCS is a basic component of soil, sand, granite, and many other minerals. Quartz is the most common form of crystalline silica and it is commonly found in concrete and concrete products such as autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC), stone and composite-stone bench tops, fibre-cement sheeting, bricks, blocks, tiles and pavers, bagged materials such as cement, tile adhesive and mortar.
The RCS-generating processes in the construction industry include the use of the power tools (scabblers, grinders, concrete floor polishers, saws, drills) on silica-containing materials, and mixing of concrete, adhesive or mortar using dry-bagged products. There is also a risk when sweeping or using compressed air or blowers on dusts containing silica.
Assessment and measurement of risk along are the most important measures along with modifying work practices and the use of appropriate personal protective equipment.
Where risk is present, health surveillance or health monitoring is required for the potentially exposed staff in order to identify any health indicators early in the process to limit the severity of any health problems.
Unfortunately, until recently, testing performed in the community has not been of a high enough quality to provide effective surveillance. This has been the case with both x-rays and lung function testing.
Injurynet is familiar with the health surveillance requirements in all states and can facilitate the coordination of high quality health surveillance assessments nationally for your organisation. This will ensure that your workplace meets its obligations with OH+S laws and guidelines and, more importantly, protects the health of your workforce.
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