Study: Silica Exposure Risks High In Chipping And Crushing Work

By Justin S. Eppler

Major health risks can come with exposure to certain substances in the workplace. Silica is one such substance. Inhaling particles of it can create risks of developing serious respiratory conditions, such as silicosis.

Silica exposure is a particularly big safety concern in construction. According to OSHA estimates, a vast majority of the workers who face silica risks on the job are in construction.

Construction jobs vary in how big of silica risks could come up in relation to them. A recent study found that workers performing jobs related to concrete crushing or chipping can encounter high levels of silica dust.

The study, done in Massachusetts, tested silica dust levels in areas where construction workers were performing demolition, crushing or bridge repair work. The study found that for certain jobs related to chipping and crushing, the levels far exceeded the OSHA exposure limit. The highest levels the study found, coming in at over ten times this limit, were for workers involved in concrete chipping work done at substructure bridge repair sites.

When construction workers are performing work in areas with high levels of silica dust, having proper respiratory protection can be key in keeping them safe from such dust. So, one hopes all construction companies take care to identify what areas on their work sites such levels could get high and to ensure workers in those areas get the safety equipment they need.

When construction workers here in Alaska develop occupational diseases due to exposure to silica or other harmful substances, workers’ comp benefits may be available to help with the financial impacts of the illness. Workers who have suffered such illnesses can go to skilled lawyers for guidance on their workers’ comp rights.