What Is Silica Dust, And Why Is it So Deadly?

There may be hazards where you work that can expose you to occupational illness. 

One of those is silica dust, which is harmful when inhaled into your lungs.

But what exactly is silica dust?

Crystalline silica is naturally found in stone, rock, sand, gravel and clay, and products such as bricks, tiles, concrete, artificial stone benchtops and some plastic materials.

When these materials are worked on, the silica is released as fine dust. This dust is respirable crystalline silica (commonly called silica dust).

Why is it so dangerous?

When workers cut, crush, drill, polish, saw or grind products that contain silica, dust particles are generated that are small enough to lodge deep in the lungs and cause illness or disease, including silicosis. It is 100 times smaller than a grain of sand, so you can be breathing it without knowing.

If a worker is exposed to and breathes in silica dust, they could develop:

  • chronic bronchitis
  • emphysema
  • acute silicosis
    • can develop after a short exposure to very high levels of silica dust, within a few weeks or years, and causes severe inflammation and an outpouring of protein into the lung
  • accelerated silicosis
    • can develop after exposures of 3 to 10 years to moderate to high levels of silica dust and causes inflammation, protein in the lung and scarring of the lung (fibrotic nodules)
  • chronic silicosis
    • can develop after long term exposure to lower levels of silica dust and causes fibrotic nodules and shortness of breath
    • can include progressive massive fibrosis where the fibrotic nodules in the lung aggregate
  • lung cancer
  • kidney damage, or
  • scleroderma
    • a disease of the connective tissue of the body resulting in the formation of scar tissue in the skin, joints and other organs of the body.

How neXtrack can help

NeXtrack is a new end-to-end digital solution for hazard control and real-time compliance monitoring.

NeXtrack had been designed as an automated monitoring platform for hazard control and validation that digitises processes, provides real-time feedback, and protects workers from occupational Illnesses.

The health monitoring capabilities of neXtrack helps monitor worker exposure to hazards like silica dust to ensure they stay within legislative workplace exposure limits.

The platform helps builders, subcontractors and workers in the construction industry to identify, manage and report on a range of hazards, ensuring every site is a healthy site. To find out more about how you can LIVE LARGE with neXtrack, please REGISTER HERE

Sources: Safe Work Australia, Cancer Council

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