Are you aware of the workplace exposure standards for these hazardous dusts?
1st January 2024
What is the workplace exposure standard for lead dust?
In 2018, the exposure limit for lead, fumes and other inorganic dusts, changed from 0.15mg/m3 to 0.05mg/m3 (TWA).
What processes produce lead dust?
Manufacturing fuel, batteries, paints, ammunition, jewellery etc.
Blasting, burning or stripping old lead paint
Hot cutting in demolition and dismantling operations - especially in a confined space
Any hot process work including soldering & blow torch use
Welding or cutting lead-painted or lead-containing materials
Plumbing, including joining lead pipe to copper and cutting lead pipe
What are the health implications of exposure to lead?
Short term exposure to lead dust can cause; abdominal pain, sickness, loss of appetite, numbness or tingling, irritability and tiredness. Long term exposure can lead to infertility, anaemia, severe migraines, muscle weakness, memory loss, paralysis, kidney and liver damage, seizures and coma.
What is the workplace exposure standard for Silica dust?
In 2019, the exposure limit for silica dust (also known as Respirable Crystaline Silica – RCS), changed from 0.1mg/m3 to 0.05mg/m3
(TWA). The change also applied to Cristobalite, Quartz, Tridymite and Tripoli, and all were reclassified as a Type 1A Carcinogen.
Where is silica found?
Crystalline silica is a material found naturally in the earth’s crust. It is found in sand, stone, rocks, concrete, bricks and mortar. The dust from crystalline silica is generated during work operations that significantly disturb any of these materials, such as cutting, sawing, sanding and drilling. Silica dust particles are over 100 times smaller than a particle of beach sand, meaning you won’t even be aware of inhaling them. And due to their microscopic size, the body’s natural defences can’t stop them from penetrating deep into the lungs with potentially fatal consequences.
What are the health implications of exposure to silica dust?
With continuous exposure to silica dust, its build-up over time can lead to fatal cancers, diseases and severe chronic illnesses, including: Silicosis, COPD, Tuberculosis, Kidney disease, Lung disease, and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
What is the workplace exposure standard for coal dust?
In 2022, the exposure limit for respirable coal dust (containing <5% quartz) (respirable dust) changed from 3mg/m3 to 1.5mg/m3 (TWA).
Where is coal dust found and what are the health risks?
When coal rock is crushed, grinded or pulverised, it creates a fine coal dust. Coal dust is commonly used at fossil fuel power plants for electricity generation, but may also be found in other processes. Continued exposure to coal dust causes scarring of the lungs, impairing your ability to breathe. This is often referred to as Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis (CWP) or "black lung disease". On average, this disease can decrease your life expectancy by 12.6 years.
How do I protect myself and other from hazardous dusts?
Eliminate: Can the hazard be physically removed?
Substitute: Can you change the process or substitute the materials?
Engineering Controls: Use an extraction unit to capture the dust at source and erect temporary enclosures to contain your work area. When working with dusts such as silica, you will need to ensure that your unit has a HEPA filter to ensure that harmful particles are filters out. You might also need to put the work area under negative pressure to ensure that there is zero dust migration. If you are unsure what you need, you can contact one of our team or view our Dust Control solutions online.
Administrative Controls: Change the way people work and ensure everyone has the correct training.
RPE/ PPE: Wear suitable RPE and ensure workers wash their hands and face thoroughly before eating and when leaving site.