Silica dust exposure is becoming a major problem in the construction industry, causing various respiratory diseases among workers.

A common component of many materials used in construction, silica is found in sand, which is a principal ingredient in cement and concrete, as well as in rocks such as granite and sandstone, clay bricks, tiles and some fibro cement products. When exposed to silica dust due to inadequate protection in place, workers are at risk of developing silicosis, a serious lung disease.

Workers who drill or cut into these products without using proper personal protection equipment are at risk of breathing in silica dust particles. When silica dust particles accumulate in the lungs over a period of time, the resultant scarring can obstruct breathing and lead to shortness of breath. Ultimately this can result in permanent heart and lung disease.

Silicosis is a slow disease with the affected person remaining symptom-free for 10 to 20 years after exposure. There is no treatment for silicosis and those who have the disease are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer.

Tecpro Australia Managing Director Graeme Cooper explains that it’s quite common to see workers drilling or excavating in a cloud of dust, given the construction boom in some parts of Australia. However, many workers don’t realise the serious risk presented by the dust, especially when working without proper respiratory protection equipment.

Mr Cooper advises company managements to insist on workers using the right protection equipment to prevent inhalation of silica dust particles. Companies can also incorporate an additional line of defence by preventing the circulation of silica dust. This barrier can be created using a fine mist of water droplets around the source of the silica dust with the help of dust suppression equipment.

Tecpro Australia designs and fabricates dust suppression systems for all types of construction, mining and industrial environments. According to Mr Cooper, Tecpro has the capabilities to design and build a frame containing industrial fogging nozzles, which can be placed around the perimeter where the dust is being generated. Silica particles are hydrophobic, causing the water droplets to repel them so that they fall back into the source where the dust is generated. This helps to prevent the dust from escaping and causing harm to people in the vicinity, as well as the environment.

Tecpro’s dust suppression system produces a mist of very fine water droplets that evaporate quickly and reduce the likelihood of water pooling or run-off.

Tecpro Australia works with the construction industry to provide the best options in dust suppression systems to combat silica dust.