Silica exposure high in a Welsh quarry
The health affects of exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) have been known for a long time.
- Despite this, workers were recently being exposed to it in a quarry in South Wales.
Rocks that contain quartz or sand are high in crystalline silica. The rock in this quarry had particularly high levels.
When the rock was blasted, cut or processed, tiny particles of silica dust were formed. The workers were being exposed to this dust.
A HSE inspector visited the quarry and found that there had been no assessment of exposure (as required under COSHH Regulations).
The quarry owners were served with an improvement notice. This required the quarry owners to do an assessment of the exposure and take action to reduce exposure.
When they were re-inspected, no improvements had been made. The quarry owners were taken to court, prosecuted and fined.
Through preventative inspections and interventions workers long term health was greatly protected.