THE HEALTH & Safety Executive is to recommend significant cuts to the allowable exposure levels for silica dust, following its consultation with the industry.
The HSE said it would propose a maximum exposure level of 0.1 mg/ cu m a day, cutting current levels by two-thirds, in a bid to reduce the risk of workers contracting the lung disease silicosis from breathing in microscopic particles of dust.
If this level is accepted by the Health & Safety Commission, the rules will come into effect on site from October.
The new levels are set to require major changes in working practice on site, because silica dust is so prevalent in construction, being found in everything from concrete to brick. Water spraying is likely to become a basic requirement on site, along with vacuum dust extraction for drilling and grinding.