June 27, 2012
By Stephanie West
Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have issued a hazard alert on ensuring that employers in hydraulic fracturing operations take appropriate steps to protect workers from silica exposure.
Its essential that this important resource continues to be developed safely and responsibly, Overexposure to silica could be a health hazard to workers conducting hydraulic fracturing operations. Respirable silica is a hazard common to many industries and industrial processes.
Workers downwind of sand mover and blender operations, especially during hot loading, had the highest silica exposures.
Workers who breathe silica day after day are at greater risk of developing silicosis, a disease in which lung tissue reacts to trapped silica particles, causing inflammation and scarring. The lungs’ ability to take in oxygen is reduced. Silica also can cause lung cancer and has been linked to other diseases, such as tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney and autoimmune disease.