Chemical Exposure in Quarries
Employees can be exposed to chemicals in quarries from a number of sources, maintenance staff are often in contact with diesel, oils and greases and other chemicals when carrying out maintenance and repairs. Concrete admixtures can cause skin or respiratory irritation as can contact with concrete itself similarly there are chemicals involved in other processing activities such as asphalt or cement production.
It is important that the material hazard data sheets for such products are kept at the quarry and that a risk assessment identifies the appropriate control measures that are required to be in place. Control measures should not just look at the provision of personal protective equipment such as gloves, eye protection of dust/particulate masks. It is important that consideration should be given to eliminating the activity or substituting the product, separating the person from the activity or introducing controls such as local extraction of fumes or vapours.
Indoor vehicle maintenance areas can quickly build up high levels of carbon monoxide and other toxic chemicals when vehicle engines are in operation, it is essential that there are good standards of ventilation and where necessary that local extraction of exhaust fumes is used. Similarly any diesel powered equipment such as water pumps or generators should not operate in an enclosed place. Recent reductions in the Occupational Exposure Levels for Carbon Monoxide, Oxides of Nitrogen and the imminent Occupational Exposure Levels for Diesel Particulates will require that diesel engines are not left running in enclosed spaces, exhaust fume extraction may be necessary in larger workshops.