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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Revised limit for respirable crystalline silica


THE revised Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL) for respirable crystalline silica of 0.1mg/m3 over an 8h time-weighted allowance came into force this week. Reduced from the previous Maximum Exposure Limit (MEL) of 0.3mg/m3, the new lower limit will affect many industries and work activities where silica dust is produced, including quarrying, stonemasonry, brickmaking and construction.

Employers have a responsibility to ensure that the new limit is not exceeded in order to protect the health of their workers as silica dust, in addition to causing silicosis, is now also implicated as a potential carcinogen.

To support the reduced limit, the Health & Safety Executive has published a series of control sheets entitled ‘Silica Essentials’, which provide practical guidance on reducing and controlling the risks of silicosis under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002.

The sheets offer simple guidance and checklists for individual tasks and operations within relevant industries (excavating and haulage, crushing, dry screening, control cabins and vehicle cabs etc), as well as general guidance on topics such as health surveillance and cleaning-up dust. For further information click on the ‘guidance/gseries’ link below.

In addition, the HSE has produced a leaflet entitled ‘Stone Dust and You’ (INDG 315), which is freely available through the HSE web site or by calling the HSE Infoline on tel: 0845 345 0055.


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