At some point, nearly all existing businesses undergo some form of construction to expand its offices, remodel old unused spaces, etc. This construction can often be inconvenient to workers as they must endure noise, obstructions and other obstacles – at least temporarily. However, one thing that office place construction projects produce that can be more than a simple inconvenience is silica dust. In order to protect workers, employers need to understand what crystalline silica is, how it can affect health and how it can be removed from the workplace.
What is Crystalline Silica?
Silica – or crystalline silica – is a common mineral found in soil. sand, concrete and many other materials. The cutting, chipping, grinding and other activity associated with construction often release particles of this common mineral into the air as fine, white dust particles. Thus, because crystalline silica becomes airborne in this manner it is can be easily breathed in which is why construction workers often wear masks when they are engaging in an activity that may cause its release.
What Is Silicosis?
The inhalation of crystalline silica can lead to a condition known as silicosis. Silicosis causes a fluid buildup in the lungs and scarring tissue to form. This scarring and fluid buildup can cut down a person’s ability to breathe. This can in turn lead to a whole host of symptoms such as coughing, weight loss, and fatigue. In addition to causing silicosis, silica has been classified as a human lung carcinogen. Finally, there is no cure for crystalline silica, thus, prevention is the only answer.
Things Employers can do to Prevent Workers from being Exposed to Crystalline Silica
- Be aware of and alert employees to the health effects of crystalline silica.
- Know the work operations where exposure to crystalline silica may occur.
- Create an air monitoring or training programs.
- Be sure that employees do not eat, drink, use tobacco products, or apply cosmetics in areas where there is dust containing crystalline silica.
Finally, the most important thing that employers can do to reduce the risk of silica exposure in the workplace is to hire a company that handles post-construction cleaning. Our janitorial services in the Inland Empire specialize in removing contaminants that remain long after a construction project has been completed. In many cases, these construction remnants include silica. We know this and that is why we include this service in addition to other service such as commercial window washing in the Inland Empire.