JAN 19, 2015

The dangers of sandblasting

When we think of hazardous jobs, the work that most often comes to mind is working with heavy machinery or at heights.

But there is one extremely dangerous job that’s often overlooked. And that’s sandblasting.

Why is it dangerous?

In most instances the blasting material chosen is silica sand (or crystalline) – a potentially life threatening product if the correct safety precautions aren’t taken. There’s also a risk that the toxic materials and hazardous dust generated from the blasting material can infect the worker.

Health hazards include:

  • Silica sand can cause silicosis, lung cancer, and other breathing problems if workers are exposed to the material
  • Copper slag, nickel slag, and glass can also damage lungs severely
  • Many slags used as abrasive materials contain small amounts of toxic metals like arsenic, berylilium, and cadmium

What safety precautions should be put in place?

The job of abrasive blasting often involves a variety of surfaces, coatings, and blasting materials and so different precautions must be taken depending on what it is you’re blasting. There are a few general things that can be done, however, that will make the job much safer.

  • Protective gear – It’s recommended that workers wear the appropriate protective gear at all times when dealing with sandblasting equipment. Things like eye protection, respiratory protection, protective shoes, and gauntlet gloves are the most vital. Sealed helmets are also highly recommended to protect workers against inhaling potentially toxic materials.
  • Ventilation – Any area in which the sandblasting is conducted should be well ventilated. HVAC systems or general exhausts will help keep toxic airborne materials from affecting workers.
  • Preparation and clean up – Before starting the work all the equipment being used should be thoroughly check. Ensure that filters and helmets are in proper working condition too. Once the job is complete, clean all dust and sand particles.

The dangers of sandblasting should never be overlooked. Follow the above guidance and be aware of the risks! 

Created on 19th January 2015
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