Posted Date: 30th May 2023

“Anybody, No? Dust”

Unlike Marjorie, dust is not okay to inhale. Continuous exposure to Silica dust can cause various respiratory diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Silicosis and Asthma.

If you are required to wear a tight-fitting dust mask, having a good seal between the dust mask and the face it essential. This is why there is a requirement to be clean shaven where the mask is in contact with the skin. Many common construction tasks can produce high levels of Silica dust, such as:

  • Cutting paving blocks and kerbs
  • Chasing concrete and raking mortar
  • Cutting roofing tiles
  • Scabbling or grinding
  • Soft strip demolition
  • Dry sweeping
  • Sanding taped and covered plasterboard joints
  • Mixing of mortar, plaster and cement
  • Drilling into concrete products


Silica dust is a natural substance found in varying amounts in most rocks, sand and clay. Particles of Silica inhaled into the lungs causes inflammation, which, over time scars the lungs creating potentially serious respiratory complications like lung cancer and silicosis.

Silicosis can take several years to develop depending on exposure levels. Symptoms such as shortness of breath can go unnoticed. There is no cure for silicosis as the damage to the lungs is irreversible.


Lifecycle of lungs affected by silica dust


The law requires that anyone who wears a tight-fitting dust mask should be trained and tested to ensure the mask they are wearing gives the full protection it is designed to do.

From 15th May 2023 the HSE rolled out nationwide inspections. Carrying out construction site inspections specifically looking at dust control. 


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