UK Industries Collaborating on Silica Dust Outreach

They agreed to work together to share best practices aimed at lowering workers’ exposures.

Representatives of UK industries agreed this month to work together on a new, cross-industry approach to controlling silica dust workplace exposures, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) announced. Industry experts will work collaboratively with IOSH to develop a new way of sharing best practices for addressing respirable crystalline silica, after they met for a roundtable discussion in London as IOSH released new guidance for businesses on the issue of respirable crystalline silica.

Representatives from the Health and Safety Executive, the Office of Road and Rail, the Mineral Products Association, and Unite the Union participated.

"Dust is not just dust – it can contain elements that are potentially harmful and can cause chronic ill health. We brought together people from very different disciplines so we could really establish a collaborative and collective approach on raising awareness of RCS and also address some of the current issues," said Shelley Frost, IOSH's executive director. "What was really clear is there are many examples of good practice across industry and that should be celebrated. Our responsibility is to break down the barriers that exist in sharing this across all industry."

Citing Imperial College London research, IOSH reports about 800 people in Britain die each year from lung cancer caused by prolonged exposure to respirable crystalline silica at work and 900 new cases are diagnosed annually. "Silica dust is one of the oldest occupational health diseases we know of. The common challenge across industry is about educating individuals of the issue. Without question the information is out there but we need to make sure it is shared among all those who require it," said Kevin Stevens, health and safety manager at the Mineral Products Association.

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