New Website Helps Workers and Contractors Work Safely with Silica

Journal: Issue 1 - 2013

When the Masonry r2p Partnership learned that CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training was developing a website to help workers, contractors, and other stakeholders identify and control silica exposures the immediate reaction was 'how can we help'. From the initial focus groups with labor and management, to reviewing and testing early versions of the site, BAC, ICE and IMI responded to help ensure that the final site would include information and end-products that would be useful for BAC members, contractors, and the masonry industry.

The result, a new website –  – launched on November 15th.  Three key features of the site are Know the Hazard, Create-A-Plan, and What's Working

The Know the Hazard section is geared for anyone interested in learning more about why silica is hazardous, the risk, who's at risk, the health effects, and steps workers and contractors can take to work safely with silica. What's Working is a section highlighting examples of what stakeholders are already doing to the control silica dust. This section also offers a place where workers and contractors can share their successes and a challenge. 

Create-A-Plan is a unique online planning tool that allows the user to create a job-specific plan for controlling silica dust in just three steps, as illustrated in the examples below:

Step 1 provides a list of materials that contain silica and help for users who may not be sure if a material contains silica. For each material selected, the user is given a list of tasks to select from -- they can select as many combinations of materials and tasks as appropriate for the job.

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Step 2 automatically lists all of the material and task selections made in Step 1. A list of options for controlling the dust is generated for each combination along with a link to examples of commercially available controls (the default control is respiratory protection.) If a user is not sure which control to use there are three options for learning more including about selecting controls.

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Step 3 is automatically populated with the information entered in Steps 1 & 2, and includes space and information for other items that should be considered in a silica control plan, such as who will be responsible for implementing the plan, what training will need to be provided, and what type of housekeeping activities should be undertaken. Once the user finishes Step 3, a complete silica control plan tailored for the job is generated that can be printed, emailed, or saved as a PDF or soon, as a Word document. As an added benefit, this plan can be used for a job-specific toolbox talk.

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"Our Union has been at the forefront of working to protect our members and other workers from exposure to silica dust since day-one," says Executive Vice President Gerard Scarano. "So when we saw a chance to help create an online resource to make it easier for contractors to find ways to control the dust and for both workers and contractors to find information on how to work safely, we didn't hesitate to help and to sign on as one of the first official supporters of the site." 

The site also offers easy access to the latest information on regulations and other requirements, the research and articles on silica, training materials, and responses to frequently asked questions. 

Designed to be expanded and improved over time, stakeholders have three ways to offer input:

  1. Contact Us
  2. What's Working
  3. Ask a Question.

You can help expand the use of equipment and work practices to control silica dust by sending CPWR information on what's working or not working, making suggestions, and asking questions. 

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