When you think about the main causes of work-related ill health, what springs to mind?
It may be slips, trips and falls, manual handling injuries or perhaps stress.
But how many of you would have said mineral dust?
Around 800 people in Britain a year die from lung cancer caused by prolonged exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) at work, with 900 new cases being diagnosed annually.
Silica is a natural substance found in most rocks, sand and clay as well as products like bricks and concrete. When these materials are cut or sanded they create a dust which can lead to lung cancer if significant amounts are inhaled.
Much work is being done across all industries to protect workers, but barriers still remain. Whether it is a lack of understanding or awareness of silica dust as a hazard or resistance from employees towards using controls, it is time for attitudes to change.
That is why the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has launched new free guidance to help businesses and employees take action against RCS.
Please visit www.notimetolose.org.uk to find out more.
Chair, South Downs Branch
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH)
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