Breath in, breath out – something we constantly subconsciously do and might take for granted. The simple act of breathing is now becoming safer thanks to some new research that Dawson Group’s Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) team is performing.

Silica dust: an invisible danger that can be very harmful to your lungs and can be found in dust created by moving material such as dirt, rock or old asphalt. Some of our employees could potentially be exposed to silica dust at work.

“Silica dusts particles can be inhaled when breathing without knowing about it. The particles get trapped in your lungs, causing inflammation and scarring. They also reduce the lungs ability to take in oxygen. It can even be potentially fatal if regular exposure over a long period of time,” said Mike Jolly, Director of HSE.

Dawson Construction employees wearing pumps on their vests and belts to collect air samples to check for silica dust levels.

Recently, HSE has distributed pumps that attach to employees hi-vis vests to collect air samples. The employees wear the pumps and their filters for the duration of their shift. Samples are taken along with information detailing the employee’s shift (location, type of to work performed).

“We collected samples over three days from Dawson Construction employees driving a loader, working in an asphalt plant and working in the control room. We then sent them, along with all our documents to a lab in Edmonton. Once we receive our results, we will begin making action plans while working with the B.C. Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA),” said Jolly.

Collaborating with the BCCSA, results will be published and a silica exposure tool will be built online for everyone to use.

Samples ready to be tested for silica dust.

“Part of our five-year strategic plan was determining what health hazards our employees are potentially exposed to and how effective our layers of protection are to keep health risks as low as possible to ensure people go home safe and healthy every day,” said Jolly.

Soon, Dawson employees can take a deep breath and relax knowing their job site is getting safer from silica dust.