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Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) - Health Surveillance and Exposure Control


Silica a natural substance found in most rocks, sand and clay and in products such as bricks and concrete. In the workplace these materials create dust when they are cut or sanded. Some of this dust may be fine enough to breathe deeply into the lungs and cause harm to health. The fine dust is called respirable crystalline silica (RCS).

RCS exposure occurs across a wide range of industries, including brickmaking, stone masonry, quarrying, foundries and construction, and is the biggest risk to workers in these industries after asbestos.

HSE estimates that around 500 deaths occur every year in Great Britain as a result of workplace exposures to RCS.

Whilst silicosis is the disease most commonly associated with exposure to RCS, other conditions including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) may also develop.

Because of these health risks, workers exposed to RCS may need to undergo periodic health surveillance, to confirm that they are healthy and ensure that they remain healthy. This surveillance is sometimes required by law. In 2016, HSE updated its guidance and advice about health surveillance for workers exposed to RCS.

This one-day course will introduce delegates to the topic, explain why RCS is an issue, give an overview of current practice and explain how things are changing in relation to health surveillance, particularly in light of the most recent HSE guidance. It will also provide information about controlling RCS exposures in the workplace.

The course will be delivered by medical and scientific experts who are highly knowledgeable about RCS-related health problems and have real world experience in helping workplaces where exposure carries a significant health risk.

Learning outcomes

Delegates will be provided with information that will help them to:

  • Understand how RCS can harm the lungs
  • Know how to monitor the health of workers cost effectively
  • Know how to set up and run a health surveillance programme and how to include health issues in their risk assessments
  • Understand how to reduce exposure to RCS in their workplace and the role that occupational hygienists play in protecting worker health

What the course will cover

This course provides a background to silica, silicosis and other related breathing problems, explains how to reduce RCS exposure in the workplace and looks at the selection, use and maintenance of exposure controls. Delegates will learn what's new with regards to the periodic health surveillance for RCS-exposed workers and examine the role of exposure monitoring in protecting worker health. Delegates will study the use of questionnaires, the use of lung function testing and the use of chest X-rays and what to do if a chest X-ray is found to be abnormal.

Who should attend?

This course is aimed at healthcare professionals i.e. doctors and nurses who are responsible for groups of workers exposed to RCS. Occupational health technicians and health and safety professionals may also find this course relevant to their role.


The course will be run at the HSE Science and Research Centre in the spa town of Buxton.

Buxton is in the heart of the Peak District and has good links to major roads and motorways, mainline train stations and Manchester International Airport.

Details of hotels in the Buxton area can be found at


£545 per person (includes course notes, lunch and refreshments).

Please note that all courses must be paid for via credit card at the time of booking.

Some of our training courses can also be delivered in-company, please contact us to discuss your requirements.

Telephone: +44 (0)203 028 3704

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