A Guide for Concrete Drilling, Cutting and Sawing Operators
Silicosis is a long-term chronic lung disease caused by breathing in large amounts of crystalline silica debris and dust, usually over many months or years of working – particularly in the concrete drilling, cutting, and sawing industry operators.
You will probably already be aware that silica is a substance naturally found in certain types of concrete, rock, stone, sand and clay. Drilling, cutting and working with these materials can create a fine dust that can be easily inhaled for those not using a dust mask or equipment to stop it being breathed in.
Once inside the lungs, the dust particles are attacked by the immune system. This causes inflammation and gradually leads to areas of hardened and scarred lung tissue – also known as fibrosis. As a result, the lung tissue that’s scarred will not function properly.
There are two forms of silicosis: simple silicosis and complicated silicosis, otherwise known as progressive massive fibrosis (PMF). When you develop PMF, even without further exposure to silica, your condition can deteriorate, becoming more serious and more complicated.
Silicosis results in the inability of the lungs to take a deep breath. We’ve all probably experienced the unpleasantness of shortness of breath. But a serious silicosis condition takes this a step further – and you end up being unable to breathe.
Are YOU at Risk from Silicosis?
People who work in the following industries are particularly at risk:
- Construction and demolition – because of exposure to concrete dust
- Trade Sector (Builders/Plumbers etc who are drilling brickwork/walls/floors)
- Paving materials/concrete repairs
- Stone cutting, carving, sanding and masonry – particularly using sandstone
- Glass, pottery and ceramics manufacturing
- Sand blasting
- Mining, quarrying and geotechnical
It is vital that if you work with silica in any way at work, in order to protect yourself, you must tell your employer. They have a duty of care to protect you..
Silica is a dangerous material if it reaches the lungs. As a result, you need to ensure you have the correct dust mask/respirator for the job in hand, as well as the correct safety equipment when drilling, sawing or cutting – anything that creates airborne dust. (if in doubt visit the HSE webpage http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg463.pdf).
Sadly, it is an all-too-common site to see concrete drilling, cutting and sawing operators cutting concrete without the appropriate safety measures.
If you have any concerns about your safety at work, you need to raise the issue with your boss in the first instance.
In response to safeguarding Concrete Drilling, sawing and cutting contractors and operators, as well as the many hundreds of other occupations who might use a hand saw and diamond blade to cut concrete, Diaquip have developed a dust extraction ski to assist in preventing the inhalation of concrete dust, when used in conjunction with a wet/dry vacuum, with a 98L> flow rate.
Click here to find out more about how you can get a Free Dust Extraction Ski for the QHS-350 Electric Handsaw.
See the difference a dust extraction ski can make to preventing silicosis causing concrete dust.
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