Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) – What is adequate control and what about exposure limits? Part 4


In this series of 6 articles, Morag McWilliam takes a look at employees’ exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica and who might be at risk. Morag details what employers must do to manage the health risks, control measures which should be applied, exposure limits, the use and maintenance of Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) systems, health surveillance, exposure monitoring and training.

To be considered ‘adequate’, control measures implemented should be in accordance with Schedule 2A of the COSHH Regulations the ‘Principles of Good Practice for the Control of Exposure to Substances Hazardous to Health.’ The principles are as follows:

  • Design and operate processes and activities to minimise the emission, release and spread of substances hazardous to health
  • Take into account all relevant routes of exposure – inhalation, skin and ingestion – when developing control measures
  • Control exposure by measures that are proportionate to the health risk
  • Choose the most effective and reliable control options that minimise the escape and spread of substances hazardous to health
  • Where adequate control of exposure cannot be achieved by other means, provide, in combination with other control measures, suitable personal protective equipment
  • Check and review regularly all elements of control measures for their continuing effectiveness
  • Inform and train all employees on the hazards and risks of substances with which they work, and the use of control measures developed to minimise the risks.
  • Ensure that the introduction of measures to control exposure does not increase the overall risk to health and safety

It is important to involve employees in determining control measures – and document why particular methods of control have been selected.

UK Workplace Exposure Limit for some materials are listed in this HSE publication:

However, WELs should not be classed as ‘safe’ levels of exposure which means that adequate control is being achieved.

For exposure to be considered adequate by the Health and Safety Executive, the employer must be able to show that they have implemented control measures in accordance with the 8 principles described above.

This is the fourth in a series of articles about raising awareness of the dangers of RCS, you can catch up on the first three parts here. The next article looks at the use and maintenance of Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) systems. If you would like to talk further please email [email protected].

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