August 6, 2019

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Silica dust

Silica register launched to protect construction workers

Unite has launched an online silica register to protect workers whose health could be damaged by dust inhalation.

dust particlesA new online register has been launched by trade union Unite with the aim of allowing workers who have been exposed to silica dust to register their exposure, to assist with potential future legal cases if they experience long term health problems.

Silica is a natural substance found in varying amounts in most rocks, sand and clay. Sandstone, for example, contains more than 70% silica. It is also a major constituent of construction materials such as bricks, tiles, concrete and mortar.

Dust is generated from these materials during many common construction tasks, including cutting, drilling, grinding and polishing. Some of this dust is fine enough to get deep into your lungs. The fine dust is known as respirable crystalline silica (RCS).

As well as the construction industry, those involved in mining, quarrying, foundries, potteries, ceramics, glass manufacturing, stonemasonry and industries using silica flour are also susceptible to silica dust exposure.

If inhaled in large qualities over a long period of time can cause silicosis a serious respiratory disease; it can also lead to other potentially fatal illnesses including lung cancer, tuberculosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Symptoms can take may years to develop and include shortness of breath, severe cough, fatigue, loss of appetite, chest pains and fever.

Unite National Health and Safety Advisor Bud Hudspith said: “The Unite silica register is an important step to help members provide evidence for possible future claims.

“Silica exposure can have long-term serious health consequences for workers, but simple measures can prevent the health of workers being damaged.

“Unite’s primary aim is to ensure employers prevent silicosis and lung cancer through the removal or strict control of silica dust.”

The move has been welcomed financial services company B&CE has welcomed the move. Gregg McClymont, Director of Policy, said: “Diseases such as silicosis blight the lives of a significant number of workers, which is why last month we helped launch an inquiry with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Respiratory Health. Any work to tackle the impact silica has on workers will have a positive impact.”

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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