Respiratory Risks from Silica in Manufacturing 

Health and Safety Executive (HSE UK) inspectors have begun a targeted inspection initiative focusing on manufacturing businesses where materials that contain silica are used. This will include brick and tile manufacturers and foundries.

Silica is a naturally occurring mineral found in many materials, including sand, stone, and clay. It is used in a wide variety of manufacturing processes, such as glassmaking, pottery, and brickmaking. 

When silica is crushed or ground, produces a fine dust which can be inhaled. This dust can irritate the lungs and cause a variety of respiratory problems, including: 

  • Silicosis: Silicosis is a progressive lung disease caused by long-term exposure to silica dust. It can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain. In severe cases, silicosis can be fatal. 
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): COPD is a group of lung diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing problems. Silica exposure can increase the risk of developing COPD, especially in people who smoke. 
  • Lung cancer: Silica exposure is a known cause of lung cancer. The risk of lung cancer increases with the duration and intensity of silica exposure. 


Reduce the risk of respiratory risks from silica in manufacturing 

  • Use engineering controls. Engineering controls are the most effective way to reduce silica dust exposure. These controls can include dust collection systems, ventilation systems, and enclosed work areas. 
  • Provide workers with respirators. Respirators can help to protect workers from silica dust exposure. However, it is important to note that respirators are not as effective as engineering controls. 
  • Train workers on silica dust hazards and safety precautions. Workers should be trained on the hazards of silica dust exposure and on the safety precautions they need to take to protect themselves. This training should be conducted regularly. 


In addition to the measures that employers can take, workers should also take steps to protect themselves from silica dust exposure: 

  • Wear a respirator when working with silica-containing materials. 
  • Avoid working in dusty areas whenever possible. 
  • If you must work in a dusty area, try to stay upwind of the dust. 
  • Take breaks throughout the day to get fresh air. 
  • Wash your hands and face thoroughly after working with silica-containing materials. 


Silica dust exposure is a serious health hazard for workers in manufacturing. However, there are several things that employers and employees can do to reduce the risk of exposure and protect workers’ health. By taking the necessary precautions, workers can help to ensure that they have a long, healthy career in manufacturing. 

The iProtectU health and safety software provides: 

  • An inspection and Audit App which allows for safety inspection of the workplace and associated report 
  • eLearning on a wide range of EHS topics, which include exposure to dust at work 
  • Scheduling functionality for managers to send eLearning, risk assessments and documents out to all staff via the software with tracks completion and compliance 
  • Risk assessment template covering various hazards in the workplace 
  • Management system to document control the policy on exposure to dust 
  • Method Statement module for the creation of work activity working instructions 
  • Legal register that provides legislation guidance on controlling dust exposure 
  • Incident investigation module that tracks incidents involving silica dust both with an app and via desktop 
  • Hazard observation app where staff can report and record any concerns regarding silica dust to the organisation 
  • Asset management App ensuring assets are recorded in the software 




Share on social media

Arrange your demonstration

Let us show you how we can transform your compliance management

Choose a date and time for your demo (no obligation) and we will be in touch.

Latest Updates & Information

The future of Health and Safety software – today! Leaders in EHS Software, GRC Software, safety, risk, governance and compliance software