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    SILICA RISK SAND BLASTING

    Use of sand containing free silica for sandblasting

     

    A contractor has been ordered to pay £50k after after blasting articles using sand containing free silica. Use has been banned since 1950 and can lead to silicosis, which is progressive, irreversible and can continue to develop after exposure ceases. The investigating inspector said “when the premises were visited the general conditions were found to be poor.”

    Vehicles were found being dry blasted using sand in a building that was not fully enclosed and without filtered extraction. The respiratory protection equipment being used was in poor condition. When passing sentence Magistrates commented that there had been a complete disregard for health and safety and that they had considered a custodial sentence. 

    Comment: Some readers will have used sand containing silica to clean buildings since 1950 and may now be wondering if they were committing an offence! The explanation is that use of sand for external cleaning of buildings is excluded from the ban on using free silica which is restricted to ‘blasting articles’ and not structures. However, pneumoconiosis is a reportable disease under Riddor where the person with the disease is engaged in sand blasting by means of compressed air and comprehensive precautions are required to protect the workforce and public.

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