Services / Lung Health Testing Services

Silica Exposed Worker Program

SureHire's Silica Exposed Worker Program is comprised of annual health assessments for workers who have been exposed to respirable crystalline silica. Crystalline silica is a known carcinogen to humans. Periodic testing can help protect workers exposed to this harmful substance so that changes in health status can be detected and steps for appropriate interventions can be taken. In most cases, silica health monitoring includes spirometry (lung function testing), chest x-rays, and physician review.

Both SureHire's Comprehensive and Basic Lung Health Medical Monitoring Programs comply with federal legislation, however, regulations differ by province. SureHire can help tailor a program that meets all requirements in addition to your company's individual needs.

None Comprehensive Lung Health Medical Monitoring Program Basic Lung Health Medical Monitoring Program
Lung Health Questionnaire X X
Fit to Wear Respirator Questionnaire X None
Spirometry Screen X X
Chest X-Ray X X
Quantitative Mask Fit X None
Pulmonary Specialist Review X X
Employee Results Letter X X
Pulmonary Specialist Assessment If Required If Required
Employer Statistical Report X X

Different Test Types

A series of questionnaires, tests, and assessments are necessary to develop a baseline of your employees' lung/pulmonary system health. These may include:

  • Lung Health Questionnaire
  • Fit-to-Wear Respirator Questionnaire
  • Spirometry Screening (lung function test)
  • Chest X-Rays
  • Quantitative Mask Fit Testing
  • Pulmonary Specialist Review/Assessment

Once a baseline has been established, annual monitoring will make it possible to detect changes that may be caused by exposure to crystalline silica.

Understanding the Results

The tests and assessments in the Silica Exposed Worker Program may identify existing respiratory conditions or the development of new conditions. Some results may require the employee to abstain from further exposure in order to prevent further damage from occurring. A physician's review will help to determine what steps, if any, should be taken on a case by case basis.

Certified Technicians 

The Silica Exposed Worker Program was developed with our in-house occupational health nurse in conjunction with certified lung health physicians.

Crystalline silica has been linked to respiratory cancers in humans as well as silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and pulmonary tuberculosis. Hazardous exposure in the workplace can occur when crystalline silica found in sand, quartz, and granite becomes airborne as dust during activities such as demolition, blasting, chipping, hammering, grinding, sawing, sweeping, trenching, excavating, crushing, loading, hauling, and drilling in concrete, brick or rock.

The early detection of any damage caused by airborne crystalline silica is essential for protecting the well-being of your employees.

Legal Implications

It is the employer's responsibility to help protect their employees lung health, and to inform workers of any hazards they may be exposed to at work. In addition to the development and implementation of an exposure control program, use of engineering controls, and regular equipment maintenance, SureHire's Silica Exposed Worker Program can be an essential tool for the early detection of problems.

In addition to putting your employees at risk of injury or death, failure to comply with federal and provincial occupational health and safety regulations may result in fines and legal action.

Booking

Contact a SureHire representative to discuss which Lung Health Medical Monitoring Program is the best fit for your company. Appointments for individual tests and assessments can be booked by phone and online.

FAQs

WHAT IS SILICA?

Silica is the scientific name for a group of minerals made of silicon and oxygen, found in most mineral deposits in both crystalline and non-crystalline forms. Quartz is the most common form of crystalline silica. It is the crystalline form of silica that is the main concern when considering health effects.

WHERE IS SILICA FOUND?

Silica is present in about 95% of rocks, clays, sands and soils. Hazardous exposure can occur when crystalline silica found in sand, quartz, and granite becomes airborne as dust from certain activities.

WHAT ACTIVITIES CREATE CRYSTALLINE SILICA?

Crystalline silica becomes airborne as dust from activities such as:

  • Demolition of brick, concrete or masonry
  • Chipping, hammering, grinding, sawing, and drilling in concrete, brick or rock
  • Abrasive blasting using sand or from material being blasted such as concrete
  • Crushing, loading, hauling of concrete or rock
  • Dry sweeping concrete, sand or rock dust
  • Trenching or excavating
  • Proppant for hydraulic fracturing

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH EFFECTS OF SILICA EXPOSURE?

Crystalline silica dust particles that are small enough to be inhaled into the lungs can cause a number of health problems such as:

  • Silicosis
  • Lung cancer
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Emphysema
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis

Some research also suggests a link between respirable silica exposure and rheumatoid arthritis and abnormal kidney function.

WHAT IS SILICOSIS?

Silicosis is caused when crystalline silica particles less than 10 microns in diameter are inhaled and deposited into the lungs. Lung tissue reacts by developing lumps and scarring around trapped silica particles. If lumps and scar tissue become too large, breathing becomes difficult, the results of which could be fatal.

WHAT FACTORS INFLUENCE THE DEVELOPMENT OF SILICOSIS?

  • Particle type (quartz, sand, granite, etc.)
  • Particle size
  • How long a person has been exposed
  • The concentration of silica dust in the air
  • Individual susceptibility

Crystalline silica has been linked to respiratory cancers in humans as well as silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and pulmonary tuberculosis. Hazardous exposure in the workplace can occur when crystalline silica found in sand, quartz, and granite becomes airborne as dust. Crystalline silica becomes airborne as dust from activities such as:

  • Demolition of brick, concrete or masonry
  • Chipping, hammering, grinding, sawing, and drilling in concrete, brick or rock
  • Abrasive blasting using sand or from material being blasted such as concrete
  • Crushing, loading, hauling of concrete or rock
  • Dry sweeping concrete, sand or rock dust
  • Trenching or excavating
  • Proppant for hydraulic fracturing

If you are exposed to dust as part of your employment, annual testing is an important method for monitoring your health. Early detection of any potential issues caused by airborne crystalline silica is essential for protecting the quality and length of your life.

What to Expect

There are a number of questionnaires, tests, and assessments that will be necessary for you to participate in in order to gain a full picture of your overall health. Depending on the version of the Silica Exposed Worker Program that your employer has opted for, these may include:

  • Lung Health Questionnaire
  • Fit-to-Wear Respirator Questionnaire
  • Spirometry Screening (lung function test)
  • Chest X-Ray
  • Quantitative Mask Fit Testing
  • Pulmonary Specialist Review/Assessment

Your initial assessment will be helpful for establishing a baseline to compare future test results to. This will make it possible to detect any changes to your health that may be caused by exposure to crystalline silica so that steps can be taken to prevent further damage.

Know Your Rights

It is the duty of your employer to help protect your lung and pulmonary health and to inform you of the hazards you may be exposed to at work. Participation in the Silica Exposed Worker Program can be a crucial tool for the early detection of problems.

Ask your employer:

  • If an exposure control and health surveillance plans for silica has been developed and implemented
  • What engineering controls and other equipment is being used to minimize exposure to silica, and whether it its maintained regularly
  • How you will be protected when performing dusty work

To decrease your exposure to silica, do not eat, drink or use tobacco products in areas where silica is present, be sure to wash your hands and face before eating, drinking or smoking, and follow safe work procedures and use respiratory protection.

FAQs

WHAT IS SILICA?

Silica is the scientific name for a group of minerals made of silicon and oxygen, found in most mineral deposits in both crystalline and non-crystalline forms. Quartz is the most common form of crystalline silica. It is the crystalline form of silica that is the main concern when considering health effects.

WHERE IS SILICA FOUND?

EVERYWHERE! Silica is present in about 95% of rocks, clays, sands and soils. Hazardous exposure can occur when crystalline silica found in sand, quartz, and granite becomes airborne as dust from certain activities.

WHAT ACTIVITIES CREATE CRYSTALLINE SILICA?

Crystalline silica becomes airborne as dust from activities such as:

  • Demolition of brick, concrete or masonry
  • Chipping, hammering, grinding, sawing, and drilling in concrete, brick or rock
  • Abrasive blasting using sand or from material being blasted such as concrete
  • Crushing, loading, hauling of concrete or rock
  • Dry sweeping concrete, sand or rock dust
  • Trenching or excavating
  • Proppant for hydraulic fracturing

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH EFFECTS OF SILICA EXPOSURE?

Crystalline silica dust particles that are small enough to be inhaled into the lungs can cause a number of health problems such as:

  • Silicosis
  • Lung cancer
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Emphysema
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis

Some research also suggests a link between respirable silica exposure and rheumatoid arthritis and abnormal kidney function.

WHAT IS SILICOSIS?

Silicosis is caused when crystalline silica particles less than 10 microns in diameter are inhaled and deposited into the lungs. Lung tissue reacts by developing lumps and scarring around trapped silica particles. If lumps and scar tissue become too large, breathing becomes difficult, the results of which could be fatal.

WHAT FACTORS INFLUENCE THE DEVELOPMENT OF SILICOSIS?

  • Particle type (quartz, sand, granite, etc.)
  • Particle size
  • How long a person has been exposed
  • The concentration of silica dust in the air
  • Individual susceptibility

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP CONTROL MY EXPOSURE TO SILICA?

To decrease exposure to silica, workers must not eat, drink or use tobacco products in areas where silica is present. Hands and face should be washed before eating, drinking or smoking. Appropriate, properly fitting respiratory protective equipment must be worn.

View all Services

Book your testing appointment easily now.