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Safety and Prevention


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Since silicosis is incurable, it needs to be prevented by avoiding inhalation of dust containing free crystalline silica. The basic goal of any safety program should be to prevent the formation and escape of dust.

Historically, technological advances have drastically reduced the incidence of silicosis. In Vermont quarries in the early 1900's, after powerful new tools to cut granite were introduced, there was an outbreak of silicosis because the tools generated large amounts of silica dust. In the 1930s, dust suppression equipment reduced the dust and the numbers of workers with silicosis decreased, until its virtual elimination in the granite industry in Vermont by the late 1960's.

Today, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets safety guidelines for employers to follow to avoid silicosis.

The following steps should be undertaken at any work site:

· Inspect work areas to determine the source of silica dust

· Isolate work processes that produce silica dust

· Suppress airborne dust with moisture by installing sprays

· Check the ventilation equipment every three months

· Use only approved respirators

· Offer periodic medical exams, including a chest x-ray and pulmonary function tests for all workers

· Train employees on correct personal hygiene and work habits to help reduce their risk of exposure

· Store silica -- if it's found in large quantities -- in airtight bins or hoppers

· Make all employees aware of the dangers of breathing silica dust

· Don't smoke -- exposure to both cigarettes and silica dust results in more severe lung disease than exposure to silica alone.

In the Rock Drilling and Mining Industries OSHA offers the following guidelines

Provide inside corner flaps for deck shrouds (skirts).

Install an air-ring seal where the drill pipe passes through the drill deck.

Install or upgrade dust collector fans so the collector airflow/bailing airflow ratio is greater than 3:1 (these are faster)

When safe to do so, raise the level of the drill in steps as the job progresses to minimize dust leakage between the deck shrouds (skirt) and the ground.

Enclose the area around the collector discharge with brattice cloth or a flexible hose to prevent recirculation of dust that has already been collected.

Lower the deck shroud (skirt) after it has been lifted to shovel cuttings.

Use proper dust control equipment.

Properly Maintain Dry Dust Collectors

Change collection filters according to the manufacturers' directions or when they no longer clean properly.

Maintain deck shrouds (skirts). Replace torn shroud material and make sure the shroud is as long as possible, but try not to drag it on the ground when the drill is lowered.

Maximize Wet Suppression

Add small amounts of water into bailing air. This is known as "wet drilling." Use equipment with a needle valve control for proper regulation of the water flow rate. Add water slowly until the visible dust cloud has been significantly reduced.

Properly Maintain Wet Suppression Devices

Use a water filter in front of the needle valve control so that it does not get blocked by small debris in the water system. To increase bit life, do not use more water than is needed to control dust.

Properly Use and Maintain Enclosed Cabs

Make sure enclosed cabs provide a sufficient flow of heating and cooling air.

Wash out the cab frequently, but do not sweep or use compressed air to blow out dust.

Replace torn or missing cab seals.

Keep the cab door closed when drilling.

Change air filters frequently.

General Health Tips

When possible, do not stand in any visible cloud of dust.

Position drills with respect to prevailing winds whenever possible, and remain upwind of drill dust sources.

Contact a Silicosis Lawyer


1-800-934-2921 Call Now to Find a Lawyer



Contact a Silicosis Lawyer | Silicosis Facts | Types of Silicosis | Diagnosis and Treatment | Lawsuits and Legal Claims
Silica Dust Dangers | Sandblasters | Coal Miners | Prevention and Safety | Silicosis Home Page