Many roofing-related hazards such as falls, cuts from sharp tools and burns from hot asphalt are easily recognizable. But there is a hazard that is not so easy to spot: silica dust.
Silica is present in concrete, roof tiles and other construction materials that have sand as a component. When these materials are cut, silica dust is released into the air. And when inhaled at significant levels during a prolonged time period, silica dust can cause silicosis, an incurable, progressive lung disease that can be fatal.
Silicosis causes scar tissue to form in the lungs, which reduces the lungs' ability to extract oxygen from the air. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 200 construction workers die from silicosis each year.
A brief history