HSE inspectors are carrying out targeted inspection initiatives focusing on manufacturing businesses where materials that contain silica are used.
The inspections, which started on 3 October 2022, are checking whether employers and workers know the risks involved when dealing with silica and ensure that businesses have control measures in place to protect workers’ respiratory health. This includes brick and tile manufacturers, foundries, stone working sites and manufacturers of kitchen worktops.
Employers have a legal duty to put in place suitable arrangements to manage health and safety and ensure they comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).
Inspectors are looking for evidence that businesses have put in place effective measures, such as local exhaust ventilation (LEV), water suppression and where appropriate, use of protective equipment such as respiratory protective equipment (RPE), to reduce workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS).
If any health and safety breaches are discovered, HSE will take enforcement action to make sure workers’ health is protected.
Whilst inspections are still ongoing, initial findings have indicated poor management of RPE in these industries. Where RPE is provided as part of RCS control, employers should ensure that:
- the type of RPE provided is appropriate for the task
- the level of protection it provides is suitable for the task
- tight-fitting RPE is face fit tested and wearers are clean shaven
- a programme for regular cleaning, checking and maintenance is in place
- RPE is stored effectively to ensure it remains clean
- RPE needs to be worn properly and that it needs to be compatible with any other personal protective equipment (PPE)/clothing being used
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Published on Monday 6th February 2023