COSHH management system

What is Crystalline Silica and what risk does it pose?

Crystalline Silica is a natural substance found in most rocks, sand and clay and in products such as bricks and concrete. However in the workplace these products create dust when they are cut, sanded down or changed in any way. Exposure to this substance may result in the following health risks:

Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) – some of this dust may be fine enough to reach deep inside the lung causing harm to health and may cause a condition known as respirable crystalline silica (RCS). Exposure to RCS over a long period can cause fibrosis (hardening or scarring) of the lung tissue with a consequent loss of lung function. Sufferers are likely to have severe shortness of breath and may find it difficult or impossible to walk even short distances or upstairs. The effect continues to develop after exposure has stopped and is irreversible.

Acute silicosis – this is a rare complication as a result of short-term exposure to very large amounts of silica. The condition is life threatening and associated with very significant clinical consequences.

Lung cancer and more – exposure to RCS has also been causally linked to lung cancer, however evidence shows that taking precautions to control the risk of fibrosis will serve to control such risks. Workers with silicosis are also at an increased risk of tuberculosis, kidney disease and arthritis. Exposure to RCS may also cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Reduce the risks and protect your people with COSHH

HSE guidance indicates that where there is significant exposure to RCS and engineering controls are not practicable the use of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) fitted with a P3 filter should be used. The COSHH assessments within your Sypol CMS system incorporate this guidance.

If you have any questions on queries concerning exposure to RCS or which to quantify actual exposure to RCS please contact the CMS Helpline on 01296 678464 or drop us an email at