This silica dust awareness course explores the health hazards associated with silica dust and the risk controls necessary when working with silica containing materials. Silica is a naturally occurring mineral present in products common across many industries, including construction, demolition, manufacturing, and masonry.
While the consequences of breathing in silica dust may take years to develop, once they do occur, they are irreversible. Daily exposure even in small amounts today can result in life-changing disease later in life.
Employers have a legal duty to provide information, instruction, and training regarding any of the hazards their employees face, including those of silica dust. This course supports maintaining compliance under the relevant legislation.
Silica is a natural substance that originates in varying quantities in most rocks, sand, and clay. It is an integral component of construction materials such as brick, tiles, concrete, or mortar.
Some of the products containing silica that you may encounter during your work are:
When work is conducted on silica-containing materials, silica dust is generated. This dust is called respirable crystalline silica (RCS), which is easily inhaled and can stay in the air for hours.
Activities that generate RCS include:
- Abrasive blasting with sand
- Sawing brick or concrete
- Sanding or drilling into concrete walls
- Manufacturing brick
- Ceramic products
Many of us are unfamiliar with the hazards of silica dust, yet the HSE ranks it as the greatest risk to construction workers after asbestos. While exact data is not available, some estimate it is responsible for around 1,000 deaths per year in the UK.
Those working on or near silica dust often do not realise the hazard that they face. One reason is that particles of dust are so tiny that they are literally invisible. RCS is smaller than the width of a single human hair.
At the same time, the amount you can safely inhale on a daily basis is many times smaller than a single penny. Working around RCS, you may feel completely normal for many years until it is too late.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Lung Cancer – Scarring of lung tissue
Employers of those that work with silica dust-containing materials have legal duties to protect their staff from these risks. These duties fall under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations. The Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations also outline legal duties to prevent risks on construction sites.
The objective of this online training course is to give guidance to those working with silica products in construction and/or mineral processing. It examines the hazards of silica dust and looks at the control measures for silica dust that must be in place when conducting work on silica containing materials.
This silica dust awareness programme requires:
- No prior subject knowledge
- No prior certification
This training course explores the following sections:
- What is silica dust?
- Health hazards associated with silica dust
- Responsibilities and duties of individuals working with silica dust
- How to carry out an effective risk assessment
- Identifying the hazard
- Evaluating the risk
- Risk controls
- Record and review the findings
- Respiratory protective equipment (RPE)
- Practical ways to reduce the risk
This health and safety course is for anyone that is at risk of silica dust exposure or oversees those that work with silica containing materials.
This may include those who work in:
- Quarrying & mining
- Stone Masonry
- Abrasive blasting
- Certain types of manufacturing
Trainees will gain an understanding of:
- Where silica is found
- Health hazards of Silica
- Legal duties and responsibilities
- Risk assessing silica dust
- Controls for silica dust
- Use of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE)
This online course provides the following benefits to employers and employees
Human Focus provides the following benefits on taking this online course:
- Prompt access via the learning management system (LMS)
- Self-paced learning, anytime and anywhere
- High-quality silica dust safety video
- Informational and interactive
- Informative yet concise
After completing the course, trainees will be redirected to the end course knowledge test to assess their learning from the programme. This is a pass or fail assessment consisting of multiple-choice questions. Participants must score 80 or more to receive their certificate. They are given two attempts to pass.
After passing the knowledge test, trainees will earn a certificate showing completion of this RoSPA-approved course.
Silica dust can stay in the air for up to 12 days due to the small size of its particles. One particle of silica dust is between .01 to 100 microns in diameter. A micron is 1 millionth of a metre, and the average width of a single human hair is about 70 microns.
This makes silica dust impossible to see with the naked eye.
Exposure to silica can lead to the development of lung cancer, as well as other chronic illnesses such as kidney disease and silicosis. The safe daily exposure of silica dust is many times smaller than a single penny.
How far dust particles travel is also dependent on factors such as size and wind speed. These particles need to be smaller than 200 microns to become airborne and must be smaller than 10 microns to be identified as respirable.