The Hidden Dangers of Silica Dust

Oct 27, 2021 | Workplace Safety

Crystalline silica is a common mineral found in the earth’s crust and is evident in many common resources like concrete, sand, stone, and mortar. Silica is classified as a hazardous substance and exposure can lead to very serious and life-threatening consequences for workers, as well as leaving businesses liable.

Silica dust exposure has been a prominent issue within workplaces for years due to the dangers associated. Despite its importance, many are still unaware of just how dangerous this dust really is. Workers who inhale silica dust particles should know they are at increased risk of developing serious and potentially life threatening silica related diseases including:

  • Silicosis
  • Lung cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Kidney disease

Controlling silica dust exposure is the responsibility of the person conducting the business which is usually the owner. They hold all legal responsibility and ignorance to silica dust regulations can leave your business liable for civil damages ranging from $150,000 to $2 million.

Regulations in Australia

According to Work Safe Australia, the workplace exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica (silica dust) must not exceed 0.05 mg/m3 (eight hour time weighted average . These regulations state that the employer has the legal duty to identify the hazard and eliminate or control any risk. These regulations have been adopted in most jurisdictions across Australia. For example, in Victoria silica is regulated under Chapter 4 – Hazardous Substances – of the 2017 Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

Whilst these standards are currently in place and have been adopted by most jurisdictions, unions are calling for more change. They’re fighting for a harder national regulation in minimum benchmarks, tougher penalties for employers who fail to comply, and a financial compensation fund for workers.

Now is the time to be proactive. Ensure you are ahead of these potential new regulations and are adhering to current ones.

HEPA H14 Filtration

HEPA H14 filtration is the safest and most effective method against silica dust. The name HEPA stands for High Efficiency, Particulate Air. HEPA filters are divided into classes depending on their ability to filter out the particle size most difficult to capture.

HEPA H14 filters are tested individually and have at least 99.995% filtration efficiency for 0.3 µm particles or above. These filters are also tested in line with EN1822.

At Australian Industrial Vacuum, we offer HEPA H14 filters to ensure compliance with all Australian Standards. These filters can be added as secondary filter options for almost all of our systems. This allows customers to choose the system that is perfect for their business or application whilst still maintaining complete filtration. Whether you require a small system for general housekeeping or a heavy duty system to clean your entire production area, a HEPA filter can be installed to ensure your environment is safe from silica (and other hazardous dusts).

HEPA H14 filtration is the ideal choice in maximising operator safety and reducing employer liability.

Australian Industrial Vacuum are industrial vacuum specialists. We can advise any business on the configurations that will best suit your business and premises through solution based research. Contact the team today on 03 8597 3376.

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