There is no cure for silicosis, which is considered to be both disabling and fatal. 300,000 hydraulic fracturing, maritime, and general industry workers, and 2 million in the construction sector totalling to 2.3 million face RCS (Respirable Crystalline Silica) exposure at the workplace.
Since silicosis can remain undiagnosed for years, it can be hard to know if you have any form of the disease. Shortness of breath, general feeling of weakness and acute coughing are some of the common symptoms of the condition.
Individuals suffering from silicosis are more susceptible to other diseases of the lungs, including tuberculosis, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, because the disease weakens the immune system.
Here are some recommendations by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to help prevent the occurrence of silicosis:
Familiarize yourself with the negative health effects of silica dust, and remain as far as possible from it when working.
Note: You may still be in danger even if the dust is not visible.
Limited spaces should be equipped with spray water systems and adequate ventilation.
Respirators, specifically designed to protect users against silica dust, should be provided to workers by employers if the ventilation and water systems are not sufficient.
Health, specifically lung screening opportunities, offered by employers should be taken advantage of by workers.
Before you sit down to drink or eat in any area, wash your hands thoroughly.
To ensure that you don’t spread the dust all over your house or vehicle, wear clean clothes after showering before you leave your workplace.
The basic approach to protecting employees involves staying on top of occupational hazard exposure. The main method used to identify the best way to put into practice effective and viable guidelines have traditionally been a hierarchy of controls.
The following is a summary of the structured system of controls to the exposure of breathable crystalline silica:
1. Elimination: Work-related activities with the highest exposure risk are eliminated.
2. Substitution: Crystalline silica materials are replaced with non-crystalline silica materials.
3. Engineering Regulations: Reducing the concentration of breathable crystalline silica by installing spray water and ventilation systems.
4. Administrative Regulations: Reducing or limiting the number of time workers spend in areas with breathable crystalline silica.
5. Personal Protective Gear: When working around breathable crystalline silica, use respirators.
The above structure is ideally meant to list the most affordable, in the long term, protective and effective regulations/controls at the top as opposed to bottom-placed guidelines. Safer working systems, minimising the risk of injury and/or sickness, are created by following this structure. Learn more about your Silicosis Compensation options here.