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Global Occupational Hazard: Silica Dust

[+] Author Affiliations
Jennifer Cooper

Missouri University of Science and Technology, Houston, TX

Paper No. IMECE2012-87509, pp. 355-360; 6 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 5: Education and Globalization; General Topics
  • Houston, Texas, USA, November 9–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4521-9
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


One of the oldest industrial diseases, silicosis, results from exposures to respirable crystalline silica, also known as silica dust. Workers worldwide exposed to silica dust span a variety of industries from construction, mining, sandblasting, to masonry, and machinery. In the United States alone 1.7 million workers are exposed to crystalline silica, which can also lead to lung cancer, tuberculosis, and other chronic airway diseases [1].

This paper will examine the health effects of silica dust on the worker, discussing exposure paths, work groups affected, occupational safety measures, worker health policies, and compare these among the developed and developing world. Implementing worker safety programs, which include wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and health monitoring and developing exposure limits, can help mitigate the adverse health risks of working with silica dust. A comparison of the successes and limitations of several programs from around the world will show that strong national occupational safety programs can reduce the mortality and illness rates of silicosis due to occupational silica dust exposure.

Without a strong national occupational safety program history shows that workers will remain unprotected until they rally together under tragedy to fight for safety. Before more workers suffer and die tragically and unnecessarily, global safety policy makers can take a lesson from history, examine and compare current programs, and implement strong national occupational safety programs that save lives.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME
Topics: Dust , Hazards



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