Silica stands out as a prevalent hazard across worksites in numerous major industries, such as construction, mining, oil and gas, manufacturing, agriculture, and metalworking. Beyond its widespread presence, respirable silica dust, finely particulate, has the ability to infiltrate the gas-exchange region of the lungs, known as the alveoli. This intrusion results in lung damage and the formation of scar tissue.

Consequently, individuals exposed to airborne respirable silica face an elevated risk of developing various lung diseases, including silicosis, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (chronic bronchitis, emphysema). Moreover, silica exposure has been linked to conditions such as esophageal cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, sarcoidosis, and pulmonary fibrosis, among others. Whether arising from short-term high exposures or long-term repeated exposures, diseases related to silica can manifest in diverse ways.

Ontario’s New Silica Control Tool

Silica dust and particles are hazards on many sites, and prolonged exposure can lead to disabling and even deadly consequences for individuals. As of November 3, 2023, workers and employers in Ontario’s construction industry can use the Silica Control Tool to help develop a plan to minimize hazardous silica exposure. Originally created by the British Columbia Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA), the tool has been fully customized to meet Ontario’s occupational health and safety standards.  For more information, visit  Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc.