SILICA IN BRICK AND TILE MANUFACTURING
CONTROL EXPOSURE TO KEEP WORKERS SAFE
Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is in most bricks, tiles and concrete. When these materials are worked, dust is created which may be fine enough to be breathed deep into the lungs and cause devastating lung diseases including silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer. These lung diseases ruin not only the lives of those that are suffering, but also their friends and families lives. Although irreversible, these diseases are preventable.
WHAT EMPLOYERS NEED TO KNOW
Exposure to RCS is subject to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH). As an employer, you are legally responsible for taking effective measures to control exposure and protect workers’ health. These measures can also improve production or cut waste.
To adequately control exposure, RCS has a workplace exposure limit (WEL) of 0.1 mg/m3 expressed as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA). Reducing exposure involves a mixture of equipment and ways of working.
TASK SPECIFIC ADVICE FOR BRICK AND TILE
Brick and tile silica specific task advice can be found on the individual task COSHH sheets here: Brick and tile silica – COSHH e-tool (hse.gov.uk)
This includes specific silica advice for clay milling, sand moving and screening, facing green bricks with sand, moving green and fired bricks, manual dehacking and batching.
Health surveillance for silicosis should be considered for workers who are involved in high-risk occupations, including casting, fettling and sand reclamation.