The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently launched a targeted inspection initiative aimed at manufacturing businesses that use materials containing silica. The HSE initiative, which includes inspections of brick and tile manufacturers and foundries, focuses on protecting workers from the severe respiratory risks associated with exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) particles.
The inspections, which began on July 3rd, are designed to ensure that employers and workers understand the risks involved in working with RCS and that businesses have effective control measures to safeguard their employees’ respiratory health. This initiative is closely linked with HSE’s Dust Kills silica campaign, which provides valuable advice and guidance to employers and workers on understanding these risks and protecting respiratory health while handling silica-containing materials.
What Are the Respiratory Risks of Silica Exposure?
Silica, a natural substance found in stones, rocks, sand, and clay, can lead to life-altering respiratory conditions like silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and even lung cancer when workers inhale its airborne particles during manufacturing processes.
What Legal Obligations Do Employers Have Regarding Silica Exposure?
Employers are legally obligated to establish suitable arrangements for managing health and safety, ensuring compliance with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH). Inspectors will scrutinise whether businesses have implemented effective control measures, including Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV), water suppression, and personal protective equipment such as Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) to minimise workers’ exposure to RCS. Should any health and safety violations be identified, HSE will take enforcement actions to guarantee the protection of workers’ health.
David Butter, HSE’s head of manufacturing, emphasises the importance of businesses taking immediate action to comply with the law and safeguard their workers against serious lung diseases. Adequate ventilation and personal protective equipment are just some of the measures necessary to protect workers’ respiratory health. Previous inspection findings have highlighted deficiencies in control measures, including engineering controls, cleaning, housekeeping, and RPE management, underscoring the need for employers to utilise and maintain these measures appropriately.
Read the full press release: HSE launches manufacturing inspection initiative focusing on respiratory risks from silica.
What is the HSE?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national workplace health and safety regulator. They prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions ranging from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors to targeted interventions on individual businesses.
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