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Foundry Health Risks

1 May 2013

Bethan Stones headshot

Bethan Stones

Group Marketing Manager

Foundry Health Risks

Foundry COSHH Assessments

Major Foundry health risks encountered by people working in foundries are the exposure to a number of harmful substances.

Harmful substances can include:

  • Fine respirable dust which contains silica, large quantities of inhalable and respirable dusts, ferrous foundry particulates and metal dust and fumes.
  • Other substances such as formaldehyde, phenol, acid fumes and isopropyl alcohol can be present if using a sand stabiliser during the casting process.
  • Other possible hazardous substances dependent on the nature of the foundry can include chlorine, aluminium, lead, cadmium, cobalt and nickel.
  • If the foundry is also involved within spraying activities workers can be exposed to solvents as well.

The levels of dust including respirable dust and silica are of key concern for foundry workers. Casting sand, fettling and kiln linings contain silica and therefore workers within the foundry industry are particularly susceptible. Workers are at risk from fine airborne particles, entering into the respiratory tract. However, these small particles are often not visible to the naked eye and therefore may not be an obvious exposure risk to workers.

Exposure over a number of years can lead to the development of the condition known as silicosis. This is a form of scar tissue in the gas exchange region of the lungs that leads to difficulties in oxygen uptake into the bloodstream. Furthermore new evidence suggests that long term exposure to silica can increase the risk of the development of lung cancer. Ferrous foundry particulate exposure can lead to respiratory problems including asthma and therefore is of an occupational hygiene concern.

Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2005, employers must make suitable and sufficient assessment of the health risks created by work which is liable to exposure their employees to substances hazardous to health.

In addition, as silica is linked to cancer, exposure must be reduced to as low levels as is reasonable practicable. In 2006 a new workplace exposure limit of just 0.1mg/m3 (8hr time weighted average (TWA)), which must not be exceeded, was introduced for respirable crystalline silica in response to the increased concern about its health affects.

Envirocare Can Eliminate Foundry Health Risks and Hazards

Envirocare can provide assistance by carrying out independent air quality monitoring within the foundry which can provide crucial data in aiding the preparation of your COSHH Risk Assessments and the elimination of Foundry Health Risks. Our service includes expert technical advice tailored to the needs of the individual foundry. These include:

  • Assessing operative exposure to hazardous substances including respirable dust and silica levels and to ensure levels are not above permitted workplace exposure limits values.
  • Recommendation of further control measures to be put in place in order to reduce the risk of ill health to your employees including selection of appropriate PPE.
  • Observation of working practices and recommendations to ensure you meet your obligations in reducing exposure to as low as is reasonably practicable.
  • Assessment of noise levels within the foundry and provision of professional advice on appropriate hearing protection for workers as well as advice on reduction of exposure.
  • Provision of baseline spirometry and audiometry testing services and provision of referrals to occupational hygiene specialists.
  • Assistance with the measurement of vibration levels and the associated management.
  • Provision of health & safety plans and risk assessments of the foundry processes and working with the site management to ensure legislative compliance.
  • Testing of any extraction systems and compressed air feeds to ensure legislative compliance.

For more information on how Envirocare can help you reduce your Foundry Health Risks and information on COSHH Air Monitoring then please call us on 01274 738668 or alternatively fill in our Online Enquiry Form