Silica is a naturally occurring mineral found in sand, rock and dry mixable products. Silica is hazardous when it is inhaled, often as a dust. When silica dust is visible, overexposure is often just a matter of time without safety measures. The health effects are typically not felt right away, but years later.
Workers who are transporting, storing and handling sand are at risk of exposure above the exposure limit. Employers are required to have an Exposure Control Plan in place when workers have the potential to be exposed to silica.
Prolonged or intense inhalation thickens the lining of the lungs causing them to become an opaque mass and lose the ability to expand and contract – making it as if you were breathing through a straw. The potential outcome is silicosis – a disabling, sometimes fatal lung disease. Silica exposure has also been linked to bronchitis, tuberculosis and lung cancer.
Energy Safety Canada has information, tools and resources designed to proactively manage a variety of silica exposure risks:
To access, please visit Energy Safety Canada’s Silica Dust webpage.