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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Deadly silica standard is killing UK workers

Photo: Jawad Qasrawi

Today's post is shared from Silica exposure was the the trigger in the US during the 1059's that incorporated occupational diseases into the workers' compensation acts throughout the US.
Silica exposures kill over 1,000 workers a year in the UK and leave many more fighting for breath. But, unlike its US counterpart, finds Hazards editor Rory O’Neill, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is following the industry line and says our deadly silica exposure standard is just fine.
When the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited Teesdale Architectural Stone Ltd (TASL) in September 2007, it discovered workers were facing unacceptably high exposures to crystalline silica, a dust that can cause lung cancer, the breath-stealing disorder silicosis and other serious diseases.
In two letters, the regulator told the Barnard Castle firm to clean up its act. Then it did nothing. After all, the company had written twice to assure the watchdog improvements had been made.
Only they hadn’t. Five more years passed before a return HSE visit discovered workers were still facing a lung-clogging and potentially deadly daily dose of dust.
What’s the problem?

The US regulator says clear the air, the UK regulator says eat dust
In the UK, the official workplace safety regulator the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is resisting behind closed doors any shift to a more stringent silica exposure standard that would help prevent cancers, lung and kidney diseases and other potentially fatal conditions. Affected workers have no say.
In the US, the official workplace safety regulator, OSHA, is arguing at public hearings...
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