Silica Dust Awareness Training

Our silica dust awareness training course will teach you everything you need to know about silica and respirable crystalline silica dust.

The course will identify some of the common construction tasks and health hazards associated with exposure of silica dust, as well as the control measures that are typically used by employers to protect their workers.

Silica Awareness Training

The course content is as follows:

  • Introduction to Silica Dust
  • Health Effects of Silica Dust
  • Silica Dust Legislation
  • Avoiding the Risks of Silica Dust

Following the successful completion of the half-day course, you will be able to:

  • Identify the properties of silica and outline how you could be exposed
  • Outline the health effects of silica dust
  • Identify the main statutory provisions that relate to silica dust
  • Outline the required control measures
  • Outline the requirements for Respiratory Protective Equipment
  • Know how to avoid the risks of exposure

If you’d like to book silica awareness training for yourself or employees, please feel free to ring our offices via the contact details on the top right of our website, or through our training enquiry form.

What is silica dust?

Silica is a naturally occurring substance which is found in rock, clay, and sand, in varying amounts. Granite contains somewhere between 15-30% silica, whereas sandstone can contain upwards of 70%. Due to its natural abundance in these materials, silica is one of the main components for concrete, mortar, bricks and tiles.

Silica-based dust is generated easily from many construction tasks. Any activity that includes drilling, grinding, polishing and cutting will create respirable dust. Respirable crystalline silica is too fine to be seen with the naked eye. This fine silica dust is able to get deep inside the lungs, which is why it’s so problematic.

Silica Dust Awareness Training

Silica dust health effects

Silica exposure is the second biggest risk to construction workers health, after asbestos.

The main dust-related health effects are:

  • Lung cancer
  • Silicosis
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Asthma

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is a disease involving abnormal cell growth in the tissues of the lung; this growth may lead to invasion of adjacent tissue and spread beyond the lung. Lung cancer which is attributable to occupation has the same characteristics as lung cancer due to other causes, such as smoking.

The most common symptoms are coughing, shortness of breath, coughing up phlegm with blood, pain on breathing or coughing, loss of appetite and weight loss. Unfortunately it has a poor prognosis and only 7% of men with lung cancer live for five years after diagnosis.

The risk of lung cancer is increased in a number of industries and occupations of which the construction industry is one of the most notable.

There is a strong association between lung cancer and silicosis . In 2004, there were over 500 separate silica related deaths involving construction workers.


SilicSilica dust health effectsosis, which is an incurable disease, is caused by inhaling large quantities of silica dust over several years.

The disease occurs due to the body’s inability to rid itself of the dust. Once the dust is inside the lungs, the particles are attacked by the immune system. However, all this does is cause swelling and scarring within the lung tissue, which eventually leads to the lungs failing to work properly. The process is similar to asbestos-related diseases.

There are different types of silicosis which are defined by how aggressive it is, as well as how long it takes to affect the person: chronic simple silicosis, accelerated silicosis, complicated silicosis, acute silicosis.

Although there is no treatment for silicosis, there is treatment available which aims to improve quality of life and relieve symptoms. Silicosis usually takes at least 10 years after exposure to affect the body, but it can be as fast as a few weeks, in the case of acute silicosis.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the umbrella name for several lung diseases which include: emphysema, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive airways disease.

COPD usually only affects people over 35 and is one of the most common respiratory disease in the United Kingdom. Most people are diagnosed in their 50s.

The damage caused by COPD cannot be reversed but its possible to slow down the progression of the disease.

Construction workers are 2-3 times more likely to contract the disease, if health and safety precautions are not followed correctly.

Symptoms for COPD are:

  • Breathlessness
  • Coughing with phlegm


Asthma is a common condition that affects many people around the world. It can cause wheezing, coughing, breathlessness and chest tightness. It is caused by the inflammation of bronchi (small tubes inside lungs), which transport air.

For asthma sufferers, their bronchi will be more sensitive, in comparison to a non-asthmatic.

For the majority, if it develops in adulthood it will become a long-term condition. Symptoms are readily controllable and reversible with specific treatment; however, some long-term sufferers may experience permanent narrowing of their bronchi, which may develop persistent complications.

If you are interested in booking silica dust awareness training, please contact us via our training enquiry form.