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Silica dust is a railway health hazard

Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is a major cause of long latency disease. HSE commissioned research estimated that over 600 construction workers die each year as a result of exposure to RCS. RCS appears on HSE's top ten list of occupational carcinogens which should be prioritised for future intervention.

​In Great Britain, activities which present a risk of RCS exposure fall within the scope of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 (as amended). Under COSHH there is a primary duty to prevent exposure to substances hazardous to health. Where this is not reasonably practicable, the duty is to ensure that exposures are adequately controlled.


Ballast dust working group

The Ballast Dust Working Group (BDWG) is an association of 8 group members with the common interest in identifying, mitigating and managing the risks associated with ballast handling and the dusts created through the process of attrition. The BDWG have a common goal to protect the health, safety and welfare of all employees and other people who might be affected by ballast handling activities within the Rail Industry. This group has completed extensive work to better understand and manage ballast dust including the development of COSHH risk assessments and supporting equipment.

Support from cross-industry initiatives

To support the good work undertaken by the ballast dust working group HSL was engaged through a cross industry initiative to provide technical support to industry Occupational Health activities. The outputs from the technical review are found in the resources area below.
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