Noise and Silica Dust Regulations: Putting People First in Quarries

06/11/17

There is a long list of safety and compliance considerations that quarry operators of all sizes must factor into their operations - from electrical testing or building compliance obligations that could apply to any organisation, to sector specific plant maintenance and inspection requirements. One crucial aspect of safety and compliance is that no quarry operator can afford to ignore their employees.

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 and Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) exposure are two of the most important yet challenging aspects of any quarry’s operations, with up to 1,000 workers killed every year as a result of exposure to silica dust alone.

Both place a duty on employers to reduce the risk to their employees' health – and both can result in serious consequences for non-compliance. Are you aware of your obligations?


The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005

Quarries are inevitably noisy workplaces. Whether operating machinery, in a control room or even in on-site offices, noise levels can be well above permitted levels, so it is important that employers take appropriate measures.

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 place a duty on employers to reduce the risk to their employees’ health by controlling the noise they are exposed to whilst at work.

This can include an audit against the regulations, noise awareness planning for employees and noise control assessments – all available from your expert Bureau Veritas team.

Respirable Crystalline Silica Exposure

Another significant risk to quarry employees is exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS), or silica dust. This is a fine dust, over 100 times smaller than the sand you would find on beaches, which is created during work operations involving stone, rock, concrete, brick, industrial sand or other quarry materials.

Prolonged exposure to RCS can cause lung cancer and other serious respiratory diseases. In fact, HSE estimates this ‘slow motion killer’ is responsible for the death of up to 1,000 workers each year – the second biggest occupational cancer risk after asbestos.

RCS falls under The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH, amended), which means employers must:

• Assess the risks to employee health within a risk assessment

• Keep a written record of the risk assessment if they employ more than five people

• Tell employees anything significant about the risk assessment

• Consider where practicable substituting material with a lower RCS content

• Prevent or control exposures to RCS by:

o Following good occupational hygiene practice to achieve adequate control of exposure

o Where necessary, provide personal protective equipment

o Maintain all equipment used as control measures in good working order

o Instruct and train employees to use equipment properly

o Tell employees about health risks

o Monitor to ensure that controls are effective and that the Workplace Exposure Limit for RCS is not exceeded

o Where appropriate arrange health surveillance

Supporting Our Quarry Operators

With a long history of sector expertise, working with many of the UK’s leading quarry operators, Bureau Veritas understands the issues faced by the sector, and how to overcome them.

We can help quarry operators to achieve compliance with all relevant standards and regulations, offering independent, impartial advice and support on all aspects of noise and dust mitigation. Most importantly, we work in close partnership to develop strategies that help to reduce the risk to employees.

If you want to know more about our testing, inspection and compliance services for quarry operators, Call 0845 600 1828 or email info@uk.bureauveritas.com.

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