Silicosis is deadly, but also preventable.
2019 has seen an increased awareness about the dangers of silica dust and the deadliness of
silicosis. SafeWork NSW is currently running a road show across the state to educate about the
dangers of silica dust and how to ensure you are safe at work.
In 2011 more than 578,000 people were exposed to silica dust while working. Inhaling of crystallised
silica can result in bronchitis, emphysema, kidney damage as well as silicosis which can be fatal in
Silica is a naturally occurring mineral found in most rocks. Silica dust is generated as a result of
cutting, crushing, sawing or polishing natural or manufactured stones. When these materials are
worked on Silica is released in fine particles known as crystallised silica. Exposure to crystallised silica
may occur while working on Bricks, Manufactured Stone, Concrete, Sandstone and other materials.
The dust particles released are often so small they are not visible and are able to penetrate the lungs
and cause irreversible damage.
Silicosis is preventable however; the following control measures are recommended to reduce your
risk of exposure:
– Ensure adequate ventilation.
– Use dust capture methods.
– Always wear a mask.
– Wet the material while cutting.
– Use a vacuum to remove dust.
– Air monitoring to minimise exposure.